Two Theories Of The United States Prison System

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Benjamin Parker (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Richard Elmore

Abstract: This project is divided into two parts. The first is a social and historical account of racism and prisons in the United States. It relies on an interpretation of Jacques Derrida’s concept of structured center to assert that America cannot exist without a racialized pariah caste. The purpose of “Part 1” is to establish the philosophical importance of prisons and to connect the social notion of invisibility to structural immobility, tracing this through the broader analysis of social, legal, and economic influences which converge in the site of the prison. “Part 2” argues that prisons can be understood as an inefficient burden of excess energy, one that is not sporadic, but regularized through the emergence of biopolitics in the 20th century. The divisions between race and class which become examples of nebulous biopower are manipulated politically to ‘kill’ aspects of the citizen, particularly in the case of the prison labeled. This death allows for economic life to replace the missing pieces of the citizen, resurrecting them into the sphere of productivity (i.e. prison labor). These forces combined create a caste of citizen who are ‘undead.’ That is to say, socially dead, but economically productive.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Parker, B (2016) "Two Theories Of The United States Prison System" Unpublished Honor's Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
Language: English
Date: 2016

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