‘Just Duck’: The Role of Vision in the Production of Prison Spaces

Bettina van Hoven*, David Sibley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is concerned with the ways in which prisoners talk about the production of space within a prison in New Mexico. We focus specifically on the role of vision in interpersonal relations, including relations between inmates and between inmates and officers, and we attempt to assess the significance of seeing and being seen in the 'personal projects' of prisoners working their way through the system. This involves examining the roles of looking and of surveillance in the organization and control of space. In our study, interpersonal relations are not divorced from the material geographies of the prison. Rather, the breeze-block walls and the steel gates are integral elements of the scopic regime as it affects relations between prisoners and their relations with the prison staff. In our account, the complex connections between actors, architecture, and technologies of surveillance are voiced by the inmates. We provide just one perspective on the making of space in the prison but it is one which has been neglected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1017
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2008

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