Daina Stanley

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

McMaster U.

Grant number

Gr. 9302

Approve Date

April 19, 2016

Project Title

Stanley, Diana Michelle, McMaster U., Hamilton, Canada - To aid research on 'Caring in Custody: Subjectivity and Personhood in a Men's Prison Hospice,' supervised by Dr. Ellen Badone

Preliminary abstract: Until recently, most prisoners who died of natural causes faced a lonely and isolated death. However, new prison hospice programs involve prisoners in the process of care. Dying prisoners often remark that peers are a critical partner because of their shared lived experiences of incarceration. In this study, I examine a prison hospice program and aim to gain insight into the subjectivity and personhood of prisoners as ‘volunteer’ providers of care. I will conduct ethnographic fieldwork over ten months, between July 2016 to April 2017, primarily at Maine State Prison Hospice in Warren, Maine. The Hospice is a separate unit of the prison that provides end-of-life care to terminally ill prisoners and engages prisoners in the process of care. I aim to gain insight into the experiences and identities of prisoner-caregivers and ask: how does the complex social world of the prison hospice influence prisoner personhood and subjectivity? How do prisoners negotiate or constitute identity and self in the context of a prison hospice? How does care in prison challenge representations of prisons as disciplinary institutions? This anthropological investigation will shed light on care, custody, subjectivity and personhood and the interactions between them. My project moves beyond anthropological theorizations of care as a tool of governance and representations of the carceral world as constituted by of technologies of governance, to understanding disciplinary institutions as spaces where care co-exists with violence. Therefore, this project will reveal alternative modes of institutional rationality and practice within the prison and has the potential to advance current understandings about social control, subjectivity and personhood.