Jarrett Martin Drake

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Harvard U.

Grant number

Gr. 10295

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Drake, Jarrett (Harvard U.) "Angels of Angola: Intimacy amid the Time of Abolition"

In Louisiana, more people are incarcerated per capita than any other state in the United States. Anchoring the state’s punishment system is the country’s most populous prison, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where Black people are disproportionately imprisoned. Yet numbers do not fully measure the cost of prisons. They also cannot encapsulate the resilience of incarcerated people, their families, and their supporters. My dissertation seeks such an encapsulation by asking two questions. How are practices of solidarity, kinship, and friendship forged, changed, or maintained amid imprisonment? What can those practices reveal about the relationship between intimacy, time, and abolition? I hypothesize that incarceration impacts intimacy among imprisoned people in ways that parallel how chattel slavery impacted intimacy among enslaved people. I further hypothesize that intimacy invokes abolitionist horizons by reimagining social cartographies and creating alternative temporalities. To test these hypotheses, I will undertake one year of archival research and ethnographic fieldwork to examine how people build bonds of affection, obligation, and reciprocity across and within prison boundaries. Overall, my dissertation seeks to enrich anthropological discourse on how space unfolds across time, how time unfolds across space, and how oppressed peoples utilize complex social networks to unmake, remake, and reclaim them both.