Francesca Cerbini

The «Intermittencies of Power». Food and Tranquillizers, Body and Person in San Pedro Prison Inmates (Bolivia)

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: ethnography of prison, prison food, adulterants, power relations, symbolic violence.

In this article I analyze the dramatic relationship between inmates, prison food and the adulterant substances they believe to be inside their daily meal rations. I show how each prisoner establishes or accepts its role in the universe of his own social system through alimentary and culinary choices. In this way, I consider food and the mysterious substances it contains as parts of a symbolic economy and practice which expresses small daily atrocities. The perception of prison food produces a long-term change in the shape and substance of the people who inhabit the prison space. A place where, through the loss of self favored by the ingestion of hypothetically dangerous substances, poor inmates express their compliance with the mechanisms of power and oppression characteristic of this peculiar context.

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