By Florence Bernault
Over the final 30 years, a considerable literature at the heritage of yank and eu prisons has built. This assortment is one of the first in English to build a background of prisons in Africa. subject matters comprise precolonial punishments, dwelling stipulations in prisons and mining camps, ethnic mapping, modern refugee camps, and the political use of felony from the period of the slave alternate to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
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To the contrary, prison architectures sought to reproduce colonial hierarchies, erected not only upon the race distinction, but also upon a subtler cantrast between individual citizens (whites) and the collective, untitled n1ass of African subjects. fricans experienced in the penitentiary was particularly crude and graphic. PENAL LABOR The \'iolence of the colonial prison derived also from its central role in the colonial economy. This role was twofold, as penitentiaries imprisoned Africans \\·ho resisted forced Iabor and colonial extractions, and implemented the svsten1atic use of detainees as cheap Iabor.
Hugucux. "Lcs dernons du Rwanda:· L 'Expn:ss (Decernber 7. 1995). 96. ). EYans. Thf Fahrication c~( \'irtuf. chap. I. ~- Thr nantcs in parentheses refer to the authors of the various chapters of this book. \\"hl're necessa~·. footnotes refer the reader to the original French edition of this book: F. Bemault. ed .. En_t(·nncmt·nr. prison ct chcitinrents l'11 Afrique du 19'-· siec/e t1 nos jours t Paris: Kanhala. 1999). 5. See the statistics published in the annual report of the Obse~atoire des prisons (Paris: L1lysse/Dystique.
No rolony ever tried to organize the \vhole panoply of penal ar(hitectures. carceral institutions. and disciplinary institutions that had spread in Europe and in the Americas from thc eighteenth century on. On the contrary. prisons in colonial Africa were based on an implicit principle: to keep the itnpact of incarceration \vithin strict ideologicallimits. By maintaining legal and physical distance between colonizers and Africans, the colonial prison \\'as not supposed to transform Africans, but simply to promote the reproduction of the dominant power.