Prison Land

Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America

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Brett Story

Prison Land offers a geographic excavation of the prison as a set of social relations—including property, work, gender, and race—enacted across various landscapes of American life. Prisons, Brett Story shows, are more than just buildings of incarceration bound to cycles of crime and punishment. Instead, she investigates the production of carceral power at a range of sites, from buses to coalfields and from blighted cities to urban financial hubs, to demonstrate how the organization of carceral space is ideologically and materially grounded in racial capitalism.

Story’s critically acclaimed film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is based on the same research that informs this book. In both, Story takes an expansive view of what constitutes contemporary carceral space, interrogating the ways in which racial capitalism is reproduced and for which police technologies of containment and control are employed. By framing the prison as a set of social relations, Prison Land forces us to confront the production of new carceral forms that go well beyond the prison system. In doing so, it profoundly undermines both conventional ideas of prisons as logical responses to the problem of crime and attachment to punishment as the relevant measure of a transformed criminal justice system.

Background photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash


  • rights
    The University of Minnesota Press gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance provided for the publication of this book by the Margaret S. Harding Memorial Endowment, honoring the first director of the University of Minnesota Press.

    Portions of chapters 1 and 2 were published in “The Prison and the City: Tracking the Neoliberal Life of the ‘Million Dollar Block,’” Theoretical Criminology 20, no. 3 (2016): 257–76. Portions of chapter 1 were published in “Against a Humanizing Prison Cinema: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes and the Politics of Abolition Imagery,” in The Visual Criminology Handbook, ed. M. Brown and E. Carrabine, 455–66 (London: Routledge, 2017). Portions of chapter 3 were published in B. Story and J. Schept, “Against Punishment: Centering Work, Wage, and Uneven Development in Mapping the Carceral State,” Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order 46 (forthcoming in 2019).

    Copyright 2019 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
  • publisher
    University of Minnesota Press
  • publisher place
    Minneapolis, MN
  • restrictions
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
  • rights holder
    Regents of the University of Minnesota