By Florence Bernault

Over the final 30 years, a considerable literature at the background of yankee and ecu prisons has constructed. This assortment is likely one of the first in English to build a heritage of prisons in Africa. subject matters comprise precolonial punishments, residing stipulations in prisons and mining camps, ethnic mapping, modern refugee camps, and the political use of felony from the period of the slave alternate to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

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The colonial prison system did not incarcerate delinquents according to a single judicial register: nor did it subject criminals to a standard regime of punishment. On the contrary, it sought to maintain the racial and juridical hierarchies upon which colonial rule was founded, thus reproducing a violent" personalized, and circumscribed power. After the conquest.. European rulers never stopped privileging physical reclusion and fixation as a method of control over Africans. As the vanguard of these confining tactics, colonial prisons illuminate how European regimes in Africa survived as enterprises of unending conquest.

Social Control and the State (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985). 13. , Social Control and the State, 1-14. 14. Recent works have analyzed the normative "gaze" that accompanied the conquest of the continent. T. Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Marie-Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transcu/turation (London and New York: Routledge, 1992). 15. " However, objects were part of interpersonal relations and did not have any autonomy---or exchange valuein themselves.

146 This "second legal economy" does not derive from the decline or the judicial fail- 32 A Histo1~" c~( Prison and Ccn~fincntcnr in Afh'ca ure of the African state: rat her. it points to the perpetuation of the rich layers of infonnal. hidden judicial tactics initiated du ring the colonial period. At that tin1e. European Ia\\· only touched upon a superficial stratutn of crimes: local conununities kept handling illegalities underground. Across the African continent. the physical management of n1ost prisons has been largely abandoned.

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