Just a quick quotation today. I’ve finally got around to reading Ruthie Gilmore’s acclaimed Golden Gulag (2006) after a committee meeting showed I need to do some more work to theorize race and/in political economy. I was struck by this great passage, which shows her ability to succinctly draw out the insights provided by thinking geographically:
“These alarming facts [referring to the State of California’s increasing spending on prisons] raise many urgent issues involving money, income, jobs, race and ethnicity, gender, lawmaking, state agencies and the policies that propel them to act, rural communities, urban neighborhoods, uneven development, migration and globalization, hope, and despair. Such breadth belies the common view that prisons sit on the edge—at the margins of social spaces, economic regions, political territories, and fights for rights. This apparent marginality is a trick of perspective, because, as every geographer knows, edges are also interfaces. For example, even while borders highlight the distinction between places, they also connect places into relationships with each other and with noncontiguous places. So too with prisons: the government-organized and -funded dispersal of marginalized people from urban to rural locations suggests both that problems stretch across space in a connected way and that arenas for activism are less segregated than they seem. Viewed in this way, we can see how “prison” is actually in the middle of the muddle that confronts all modestly educated working people and their extended communities—the global supermajority—at the dawn of the twenty-first century” (Gilmore, 2006: 10-11, emphasis mine).
Gilmore, R. W. (2006). Golden gulag: Prisons, surplus, crisis, and opposition in globalizing California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.