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This is our course website for HIST/PUBPOL/SOC 190s The Prison in the Western World, an online course taught by Jacqueline Allain at Duke University. Join us as we blog about our readings and guest lectures!

Course Description:

This course analyses the rise of the carceral state, with a geographical focus on Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, the colonial Caribbean, and colonial Latin America. We will begin the course by analyzing the rise of the prison in Europe, and we will end by discussing today’s prison abolitionist movement, paying particular attention to recent calls for the release of prisoners in the wake of COVID-19, the effects of which have been felt especially acutely by incarcerated persons. Other topics we will cover include the following: European precursors to the modern prison; the history of prison reform; the incarceration of women and the rise of the women’s prison; the colonial prison; the nexus of slavery, emancipation, and incarceration in the US and the Caribbean; and other carceral sites, especially the ICE detention center, the Japanese internment camp, and the Nazi concentration camp. This course’s emphasis on prisons in the European colonial world will allow us to interrogate the idea of the West as a discrete, isolatable category and location.