With one-third of the global population now under some form of lockdown or quarantine due to the spread of COVID-19, an unprecedented number of people are experiencing varying levels of isolation daily.
We are all now familiar with the practice of “social distancing,” in which individuals must stay six feet away from one another, all in-person non-essential work is ceased, and all social activity is eliminated, though this practice is only one dimension of confinement.
While one individual can be isolated from others during a public health crisis, so too can one be deprived of human contact as a matter of course in the criminal justice system. Likewise, a community can become isolated from its neighbors, set adrift in the sea of an occupying force, as a means to render its spirit null. A mind can be cloistered in time as a punishment or deposited in the void as a reward.
Above all, in whatever circumstance of isolation one may find themselves, resiliency can be found beneath trauma and uncertainty. Presented here are titles that each explore this resiliency and the dimensionality of confinement in their own unique way.
by Gary Fields
“Reading Enclosure brings home the tragedy of such immense and irrevocable destruction.”
—New York Review of Books
Enclosure marshals bold new arguments about the nature of the conflict in Israel/Palestine. Gary Fields examines the dispossession of Palestinians from their land—and Israel’s rationale for seizing control of Palestinian land—in the contexts of a broad historical analysis of power and space and of an enduring discourse about land improvement. Focusing on the English enclosures (which eradicated access to common land across the English countryside), Amerindian dispossession in colonial America, and Palestinian land loss, Fields shows how exclusionary landscapes have emerged across time and geography. Evidence that the same moral, legal, and cartographic arguments were used by enclosers of land in very different historical environments challenges Israel’s current claim that it is uniquely beleaguered. This comparative framework also helps readers in the United States and the United Kingdom understand the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the context of their own histories.
by Terry Allen Kupers
“[A] robust intellectual contribution to analyses of modern solitary confinement use and a powerful piece of advocacy advocating for abolition of the practice – a rare feat in an academic work.”
—Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books
Imagine spending nearly twenty-four hours a day alone, confined to an eight-by-ten-foot windowless cell. This is the reality of approximately one hundred thousand inmates in solitary confinement in the United States today. Terry Allen Kupers, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the mental health effects of solitary confinement, tells the powerful stories of the inmates he has interviewed while investigating prison conditions during the past forty years. Touring supermax security prisons as a forensic psychiatrist, Kupers has met prisoners who have been viciously beaten or raped, subdued with immobilizing gas, or ignored in the face of urgent medical and psychiatric needs. Kupers criticizes the physical and psychological abuse of prisoners and then offers rehabilitative alternatives to supermax isolation. Solitary is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the true damage that solitary confinement inflicts on individuals living in isolation as well as on our society as a whole.
by Aidan Forth
“This is a fascinating account that describes the forces that created and maintained camp networks within the British empire without losing sight of the human suffering of those interned.”
—LSE Review of Books
Camps are emblems of the modern world, but they first appeared under the imperial tutelage of Victorian Britain. Comparative and transnational in scope, Barbed-Wire Imperialism situates the concentration and refugee camps of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) within longer traditions of controlling the urban poor in metropolitan Britain and managing “suspect” populations in the empire. Workhouses and prisons, along with criminal tribe settlements and enclosures for the millions of Indians displaced by famine and plague in the late nineteenth century, offered early prototypes for mass encampment. Venues of great human suffering, British camps were artifacts of liberal empire that inspired and legitimized the practices of future regimes.
by Lena Constante
“Constante has written a beautiful book about human endurance painfully learned; above all, it is a testament to the power of poetry to free the human spirit even when the physical body is suffering cold, hunger, and cruel degradation.”
—Women’s Review of Books
Victim of Stalinist-era terror, Lena Constante was arrested on trumped-up charges of “espionage” and sentenced to twelve years in Romanian prisons. The Silent Escape is the extraordinary account of the first eight years of her incarceration—years of solitary confinement during which she was tortured, starved, and daily humiliated.
The only woman to have endured isolation so long in Romanian jails, Constante is also one of the few women political prisoners to have written about her ordeal. Unlike other more political prison diaries, this book draws us into the practical and emotional experiences of everyday prison life. Candidly, eloquently, Constante describes the physical and psychological abuses that were the common lot of communist-state political prisoners. She also recounts the particular humiliations she suffered as a woman, including that of male guards watching her in the bathroom. Constante survived by escaping into her mind—and finally by discovering the “language of the walls,” which enabled her to communicate with other female inmates. A powerful story of totalitarianism and human endurance, this work makes an important contribution to the literature of “prison notebooks.”
by Albert A. Harrison
“An informed and upbeat appraisal of the human dimension of spaceflight, coupled with a cautious and wistful rumination on its prospects.”
—Issues in Science and Technology
The stars have always called us, but only for the past forty years or so have we been able to respond by traveling in space. This book explores the human side of spaceflight: why people are willing to brave danger and hardship to go into space; how human culture has shaped past and present missions; and the effects of space travel on health and well-being. A comprehensive and authoritative treatment of its subject, this book combines statistical studies, rich case histories, and gripping anecdotal detail as it investigates the phenomenon of humans in space—from the earliest spaceflights to the missions of tomorrow.
Drawing from a strong research base in the behavioral sciences, Harrison covers such topics as habitability, crew selection and training, coping with stress, group dynamics, accidents, and more. In addition to taking a close look at spacefarers themselves, Spacefaring reviews the broad organizational and political contexts that shape human progress toward the heavens. With the ongoing construction of the International Space Station, the human journey to the stars continues, and this book will surely help guide the way.