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SoGE Annual Lecture 2018

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School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford

South Parks Road

Oxford

OX1 3QY

United Kingdom

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Women’s suffrage and Women’s penal suffering: how prison constructs women’s gender identities

Professor Judith Pallot, Emeritus Professor of the Human Geography of Russia

In the centenary year of women getting the vote in Britain, the struggle for which involved the imprisonment of hundreds of suffragettes, it is fitting to use the occasion of the SoGE Annual Lecture to consider the relationship between women's identity construction and penality. The suffragettes were high profile victims of the English criminal-justice system, but the majority of women drawn into the penal nexus across the globe in the 21st century remain invisible. Thus, whereas there is a growing body of literature on how high imprisonment societies, like our own, construct contemporary masculinities, there is no equivalent literature of penality's role on the production and reproduction of women's identities. The explanation normally given for this is that women 'only' constitute a minority of prisoners, so the impact of prison on their identity construction is, correspondingly, insignificant. But this fails to recognise the impact prisonisation has on the women "left behind" when a family member is imprisoned. In the lecture I will use my research on Russia, to examine the ways that women who have been forced to engage with the criminal-justice system position themselves in relation to the contradictory roles that society constructs for them. I will argue that there are lessons to be learned from the Russian examples for all societies that continue to use imprisonment as their principal instrument of social control.


The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception from 7pm, where attendees will have the opportunity to see the department's new 'window of women', a wall display of 12 distinguished SoGE women and a film capturing our 'Celebrating Women Alumnae' event in January, organised as part of the School's Athena SWAN work to enhance diversity and promote equality.

Date and Time

Location

School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford

South Parks Road

Oxford

OX1 3QY

United Kingdom

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