prison heterocisnormative complex

Emerging scholarship on queer incarceration –a term that refers to criminalisation and imprisonment of LGBTI+, queer and gender non-conforming individuals– demonstrate that under the global expansion of prison industrial complex, increasing number of marginalised people, including the bodies that fall outside the binary logic of gender, sex and sexuality, are put behind bars. Yet, punishment of queer bodies does not start with prisons, but has a long history traceable till the early European colonialism which introduced strict gender and sexual (along with racial and ethnic) categories, and penalised systematically those who have not conformed them. Moreover, ongoing punitive regimes have always been materialised by design and architectural practices which have become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the recent decades. Today’s spatial and material (spatio-material) arrangements, thus, function as the pillar of colonial capitalism, while LGBTQI+ prisoners continue to be subject to violence that these practices foster (i.e. genitalia-based placement, wards for solitary confinement, clothing politics, prison labour, etc.).

This post-doctoral research, called Prison Heterocisnormative Complex: Spatio-material Politics of Queer Incarceration, as a continuation of the last part of this doctoral research – aims to offer a theoretical and empirical account on how material and spatial practices of incarceration (from artefacts and spaces to digital technologies) underpin further segregation and punishment of LGBTQI+ prisoners. Focused particularly on the European context and its punitive regimes, this research aims 1) to trace specific spatio-material techniques used to penalise gendered, sexualised and racialised bodies throughout the colonial and contemporary history; 2) to unfold the role of today’s design practices and gender ideologies in increasing the dehumanising conditions of incarceration; and 3) to outline transformative directions for designers, law-makers and activists towards more just futures for criminalised queer bodies.