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Upcoming Seminar – “Prisons and State Building: Exporting ‘the Fiasco of the Prison’ to the Global South”

Next week, the Crime and Justice Research Centre will host a research seminar on “Prisons and State Building: Exporting ‘the Fiasco of the Prison’ to the Global South” with guest speaker Dr Deborah Drake from The Open University (UK)

The seminar will take place on Thursday 6 July 2017 from 3.30-5pm in room C412 at QUT Gardens Point Campus, 2 George Street Brisbane.

About the seminar: Prisons researchers working in ‘developing countries’ have noted the tendency for particular justice practices and reforms – especially those associated with the use of imprisonment – to be exported (or imported) to countries in the Global South.  This paper draws on theoretical and empirical literature to discuss the use of the prison, cast as a form of state building. Following the work of Andrew Jefferson and others in the Global Prisons Research Network, this paper argues that criminal justice systems in the Global South are targets for both private and state-built prison expansionism. In a continuing colonisation project, the prison has become a lauded symbol of ‘western-democracy’ that is justified as an effective and meaningful means of enforcing the rule of law and an internationally recognised indicator of a strong state.  This paper, however, discusses the prison as a place of organized state violence that perpetuates a version of ‘law and order’ that is brutal, unequal and blind to its own power imbalances.  The paper argues that the role of the prison as a legitimate means to signal effective ‘state building’ in developing or conflict-ridden nations is all the more troubling, given the irrefutable evidence of the ‘fiasco’ of the prison to fulfil its own stated purposes, as demonstrated by over 200 years of its use in the Global North.

About the speaker: Dr Deborah Drake is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at The Open University.  She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK (2007) and her BA (2001) and MA (2003) in Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.  She has conducted ethnographic research on maximum-security and long-term imprisonment, resettlement, and children’s imprisonment. She has also researched community social justice initiatives in Milton Keynes, UK and with voluntary sector service providers.  Currently, she is developing a new research area looking at the use of propaganda in the justification and delivery of criminal justice.

To register for this event, please RSVP to

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