Discourse, identity enclosures, institutionalization, performative spaces, prisonization, normalization, labeling theory, education


This is part one of a two-part interdisciplinary paper that examines the various forces (discourses and institutional processes) that shape prisoner-student identities. Discourses of officers from a correctional website serve as a limited, single case study of discourses that ascribe dehumanized, stigmatized identities to "the prisoner." Two critical concepts, performative spaces and identity enclosures, are purposed as potential critical, emancipatory terms to explore the prisoner-student identity work that occurs in schools and elsewhere in prison. This paper is guided by the effort to assist teachers to act as transformative intellectuals in prisons and closed-custody settings by becoming more aware of the multilayered contexts--the politics of location--that undergird their work. Seeing the "bigger picture" has implications for how and what educators teach in prison settings and, perhaps, why education works to facilitate reentry. This paper is grounded in normalization theory. Normalization theorists believe prisons can facilitate reentry when they mirror important dimensions of outside life. The performance of multiple, contextualized identities, considered here and examined in more detail in a forthcoming article, serves as an example of how educators mirror "normal" life by facilitating the performance of different roles for prisoners on the inside.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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