Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada ed. by Liat Ben-Moshe, Chris Chapman, and Allison C. Carey (review)
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Reviewed by
Liat Ben-Moshe, Chris Chapman, and Allison C. Carey, eds. Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 307 pp. $32.00.

Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada is an edited collection that seeks to examine the intersection of disability with different sites of confinement. In particular, the collection seeks to examine how [End Page 244] disability and confinement are expressed in situation with other forms of stratification in society, such as gender and race.

Inspired by Foucault's work on political rationalities, the book aims to contribute to "understandings of the shared and divergent political rationalities at work in making the confinement of diverse bodies seem acceptable and useful" (x). To do this, the book provides fourteen chapters which engage with the confinement of disability in society across two parts. In the first, the histories and legacies of confining disabled and different bodies are traced in their various forms. In the second, the contemporary landscape of interlocking oppressions is explored, and the connection between disability and modern-day incarceration are brought to the fore.

The collection brings together the work of scholars and activists working within and across the broad fields of disability studies, critical race theory, gender studies, and punishment and society scholarship. While not entirely the intention of the editors, the collection ultimately offers three main contributions to scholarship.

First, the collection extends our appreciation of the interlocking systems of oppression that see very specific populations confined more than others. Indeed the majority of chapters within the collection try in some way to illuminate the overlapping and intersecting incarceration histories of racialized, gendered, and disabled bodies. This includes, for example, Chapman's historical account of "ethical reformulations," Ware, Rozsa, and Dias's account of the co-constructions of racism, disability, and the Prison Industrial Complex, and several others. Together, these essays outline an intricate tapestry of intersections, overlaps, and mutual constitutions between race, gender, ability, and the prison. As such, the collection advances scholarship on intersectionality and incarceration, without resorting, as Chapman aptly puts it, to the simplistic task of claiming to "find the master trope of all oppression" (28).

Second, the book further expands our understanding of the different sites of incarceration which have taken shape in society over time, and the connections between the development and use of such sites. The book does this by offering several cogent accounts of the wide range of ways that disability and its interlocking oppressions have been confined through various institutions and practices beyond the traditional prison. For example, Chapman, Carey, and Ben-Moshe provide a detailed historical overview of the different modes of confinement people with disabilities have experienced over time: from undifferentiated almshouses, to specialist systems for reform and integration (e.g., specialist schools, penitentiaries, and medical institutions). Erevelles offers a reflective and compelling account of the school-to-prison pipeline, drawing convincing parallels between "the dis-locating practices of public education, the postcolonial ghetto and the segregational statutes of the New Jim Crow" (91). And Fabris and Aubrecht provide an intriguing, letter-based narrative analysis of "chemical incarceration" in institutional settings, giving new meaning to the ways that coercively administered medications "restrain the body and create dependency, using the body against the person, which results in an indefinite form of detention" (186). Such work will appeal to activists and scholars working in the broad fields of disability studies, mad studies, and punishment and society scholarship, offering them an important platform from which to engage in further conversations about the connections between seemingly separate sites of confinement.

The final contribution of this book lies in its capacity to illuminate the underlying stories of nationhood and citizenship that are woven into the history of disability's incarceration. For example, both Reaume and Mirza explore the location of disability in the geopolitics of transnational migration, with Reaume providing a rich, historic account of "how incarceration in psychiatric hospitals, in 1920s Toronto in particular, was an intermediate station in the process of expulsion back to one's country of [End Page 245] origin as a rejected resident of Canada" (63), and Mirza showing...


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