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See also: carcéral



From Late Latin carcerālis (carceral), from Latin carcer (jail, prison) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to bend, turn, in the sense of an enclosure)) + -ālis (suffix forming adjectives of relationship from nouns).[1]



carceral (not comparable)

  1. (formal or literary) Of or pertaining to imprisonment or a prison. [from late 16th c.]
    • 1855, John Foxe, “Book VI. Pertaining to the Last Three Hundred Years from the Loosing Out of Satan.”, in The Church Historians of England. Reformation Period. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe. [], volume III, part II, [London]: Seeleys, [], OCLC 20187380, page 582:
      [O]n his showing signs of penitence, through favour they were contented that he should be released from his carceral endurance, in case he would put in sufficient surety in the king's chancery, and swear that he would never hold or favour any such opinions hereafter. And so, taking an oath of him, the archbishop committed him to the custody of the bishop of Worcester, to whom power and authority were permitted to release him, upon the conditions aforesaid.
    • [1861?], Bracebridge Hemyng, “Coaches, Whales, and Wings”, in The Dark Cloud with the Silver Lining, London: James Blackwood, [], OCLC 22354427, page 32:
      This moon-calf of the imagination binds your reason, sir, in carceral chains.
    • 1987, J[osé] G[uilherme] Merquior, “Charting Carceral Society”, in Foucault, Berkeley; Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, →ISBN, pages 95–96:
      For [Michel] Foucault makes no bones about it: we live – as direct heirs to the impulses and institutions first manifested in the high tide of rising of bourgeois society – under a ‘universal reign of the normative’ dominated by agents of normalcy and surveillance: the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the social-worker-judge. And such a social world is plainly ‘a carceral network’ in ‘compact or disseminated forms’. [] The ‘carceral system’, therefore, extends ‘well beyond legal imprisonment’; prison is at bottom just its ‘pure form’ within a continuum of disciplinary apparatuses and ‘regional’ institutions.
    • 2010 autumn, Elizabeth Bernstein, “Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: The Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Antitrafficking Campaigns”, in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, volume 36, number 1, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, DOI:10.1086/652918, ISSN 0097-9740, OCLC 909809615, pages 45–71:
      Instead, this article seeks to demonstrate the extent to which evangelical and feminist antitrafficking activism has been fueled by a shared commitment to carceral paradigms of social, and in particular gender, justice (what I here develop as “carceral feminism”) and to militarized humanitarianism as the preeminent mode of engagement by the state.
    • 2011, Bernard E. Harcourt, “The Paris Marais and the Chicago Board of Trade”, in The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order, Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, →ISBN, pages 42–43:
      Neoliberal penality and its earlier iterations have fertilized the carceral sphere. They have made possible, by resolving any possible cognitive dissonance, a world in which 71 percent of American respondents could favor the free-market economy as the very best system on which to base the future of the world and, at the very same time, live in a place that operates the world's biggest, most expensive, government-run, interventionist, prison system that incarcerates more than one out of every hundred adults in the country.
    • 2016, Sonia Sotomayor, “Utah v. Strieff”, in U.S. Reports, volume 579, Washington, D.C.:
      By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.

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