Anticipating Individuals: modes of vision and their social consequence in a Papua New Guinean prison

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Abstract

This article explores experiences of vision in Bomana prison, Papua New Guinea. It examines what prisoners themselves regard as the visual limits and capacities of incarceration. Foucault describes the role of penal technologies of surveillance in the rise of a modern subjectivity in Europe and America. But in Bomana prisoners recognize very different modes of vision, which have quite separate consequences. These are drawn out with reference to the work of Strathern and Levin. Prisoners are shown to Privilege an aesthetic of darkness or concealment, but also of clearing or divine light. Both are grounded in an assumed connexion between seer and seen. The article aims to expand an understanding of sociality in Melanesia through opening the possibilities of vision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-56
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999

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