Carceral Geographies from Inside Prison Gates: The Micro-Politics of Everyday Racialisation

Stefano Bloch, Enrique Alan Olivares-Pelayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Addressing a need for carceral geographical research conducted from inside prison gates, we discuss the spatial context in which racialisation occurs, including its relationship to the performance of prison “politics”. We argue that the convoluted and contentious racial categorisation of prison inmates that begins with “racial priming” and results in “racial sorting” possesses a spatial logic derived from institutional partitioning and street-level cordoning of individual and group identities. We reveal how racialisation is relied upon through both a self-segregation and institutional classification system at the micro scale. Based on autoethnographic reflection as formerly jailed and incarcerated individuals, and through a reading of sociological, criminological, and geographical literatures, we argue that the logic of everyday micro-scale racial identity formation has more to do with location, gang alliances, antagonisms, and the necessary navigating of prison “politics” and protocol than with conceptualisations of “race” engendered by racial capitalism and enforced by the racial state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1338
Number of pages20
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • autoethnography
  • carceral geographies
  • gangs
  • prison
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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