This book looks deeply at women researchers’ personal stories, struggles, and successes within the context of conducting research in the male-dominated sphere of prison studies. Their insights provide an analytical resource from which readers can better understand the context of doing prison research and the theoretical and methodological challenges that come with it. Their autoethnographic stories shed light on the unique issues faced by women prison researchers and provide a roadmap for understanding the novel strategies, methodological landmines, and epistemological challenges for those who will come after them. Their experiences as women investigators are couched in a distinct set of challenges. This book is intended to highlight those researchers’ challenges and also, to celebrate their successes.
Jennifer A. Schlosser is assistant professor of sociology at Coastal Carolina University.
Introduction, Jennifer A. Schlosser
Part I - If We Knew Then: Lessons from the Field
Chapter 1: The Endlessly Fascinating and Depressing Rabbit Hole of Prisons: Being a Woman Researching in a Man’s World, Kathryn J. Fox
Chapter 2: Reflections on Team Research in Carceral Settings, Keramet Reiter, Dallas Augustine, Melissa Barragan, Kelsie Chesnut, Gabriela Gonzalez, & Natalie Pifer
Chapter 3: A Woman’s Place: A Critical Examination of Methodological Landmines in Prison Research, Jennifer A. Schlosser
Part II - Locating Our Selves: Stories of Belonging
Chapter 4: Cloaked in Liminality: Negotiating Roles, Identity, and Emotional Labor Within and Between Prison Walls and Academia, Shenique Thomas-Davis
Chapter 5: “Just Listen, People!”: Narrative as Resistance in Criminological Research, Abigail Kolb
Part III - Blurring the Lines: Tales of Personal Connection
Chapter 6: Complicity and Compassion: Mediations on Writing and Researching with Incarcerated Women, Tobi Jacobi
Chapter 7: Empathy and Identity: Mothers Researching (Incarcerated) Mothers, Beth Easterling
Chapter 8: On the Possibilities of Emotional Praxis for Feminist Prison Research, Lindsey Raisa Feldman
Part IV - What We Know Now: Career Reflections and Looking Ahead
Chapter 9: From ‘Captive Audience’ to Cultural Penology: Reflections on a Career in Prison Research, Yvonne Jewkes
Chapter 10: Women in our own Right or ‘Honorary Men’?: Reflections on a Professional Life in Prisons Research, Alison Liebling
Chapter 11: “You’ve got a hard edge!”: The Gender Politics, Complexities and Intimacies Undertaking Prisons Research at the ‘Edge’, Kate Gooch
This engaging collection of essays offers a glimpse into the working lives and experiences of a collection of well-known female prison researchers in the US and the UK. In a series of intimate accounts, they not only offer practical advice to younger colleagues, but also reflect on quite personal aspects of their academic careers. In its focus on female researchers this book inspires reflection about the role of gender in the construction of knowledge. Many of the authors acknowledge their class and educational privileges relative to the men and women in prison, as well as their racial differences. Coming to the end of the book, I found myself wishing for a companion volume of papers by the research participants. Perhaps that could the editor’s next project. For now, this book will fill an important gap in methods training for prisons researchers.
This collection brings rare emotional honesty and intellectual discernment to research in prisons as it grapples with the gendered, always deeply political aspect of undertaking it. The stories will inspire a new generation of scholars working across carceral boundaries and other social hierarchies.