Journal of Aging and Identity

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 177–193 | Cite as

Reconfiguring Older Bodies in the Prison Time Machine

  • Azrini Wahidin


It is by mapping an area that the geographer comes to understand the contours and formations of a place. The “place” in this case is the prison world. This article serves to map moments in prison demonstrating how “old” female bodies are performed under the prison gaze. In this article I will illustrate how older women subvert, negotiate, or invoke discourse as a means of reinscribing the normalizing discourses that serve to confine and define older women's experiences in prison. Female elders in prison become defined and confined by regimes of femininity and ageism. They have to endure symbolic and actual intrusions of physical privacy, which serve to remind them of what they were, where they are, and what they have become. This article will critically explore the complexity and contradictions of time use in prison and how they impact on embodied identities. By incorporating the voices of elders, I hope to draw out the contradictions and dilemmas which they experience, thereby illustrating the relationship between time, their involvement in doing time, and the performance of time in a total institution (see Goffman, 1961), and the relationship between temporality and existence. The stories of the women show how their identities are caught within the movement and motion of time and space, both in terms of the time of “the real” on the outside and within prison time. This is the in-between space of carceral time within which women live and which they negotiate. It is by being caught in this network of carceral time that they are constantly being “remade” as their body/performance of identities alters within it. While only a small percentage of the female prison population in the United Kingdom are in later life, one has to question why criminological and gerontological literature fail to address the needs of a growing significant minority.

old bodies identity time prison 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Azrini Wahidin
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, Darwin CollegeUniversity of KentU.K

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