David Christopher Thompson
Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationSimon Fraser U.
Grant numberGr. 10190
Approve DateOctober 7, 2021
Project TitleThompson, David (Simon Fraser U.) "'Resocialize to Conquer the Future': Incarceration and Reform in Rio de Janeiro"
The Hunt Fellowship will support the writing of my book manuscript, ‘“Resocialize to Conquer the Future”: Incarceration and Reform in Rio de Janeiro.’ The manuscript draws on 24 months’ fieldwork in the prison system of Rio to examine the interventions made in the lives and futures of the incarcerated in the name of “resocialization.” This reformative labor renders the future available as a resource for prison life and governance. It emerges as a set of documents; a Bible study session; an interview with a social worker; or a denied parole application. I map these domains and follow both prison workers and incarcerated people as they mobilize reform towards punitive and emancipatory ends. In doing so, I argue that prisons are anticipatory institutions, oriented towards horizons of reform even in contexts of entrenched punitive violence and overcrowding. This anticipation channels a series of anxieties surrounding Blackness, gender, and kinship, anxieties that shape what becomes legible within as a properly resocialized subject. The book contends that incarceration increasingly determines what individual and collective futures are imaginable within and beyond prison walls, particularly in the context of Brazilian democracy and its expanding penal state. It therefore calls into question the contemporary uses of both anticipation and reform, and highlights their effects, both in prisons and within the discipline of anthropology.