Chapter 1 Prison Escapes, Everyday Life and the State: Narratives of Contiguity and Disruption

  • Mahuya Bandyopadhyay
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


This chapter attempts to break the ‘conspiracy of silence’ around prison escapes. The ethnographic analysis of prison life has the capacity to reveal the notions of escape, freedom, confinement and subversions in unique ways (Bandyopadhyay et al., Criminal Justice Matters, 91(1), 28–29, 2013; Rhodes, Ethnographic Imagination in the Field of the Prison. In D. Drake, R. Earle, & J. Sloan (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Prison ethnographies also potentially disrupt acknowledged ways of seeing and representing these concepts. In this chapter I reclaim the understanding of escape from its binary metanarrative—that of the agency and self-determination of the prisoner and the collective that the prisoner represents, and the reproduction of the prison. I explore multiple meanings of escape for prisoners and draw out from different instances of successful and attempted but failed escapes, the braiding of this extraordinary event into the ordinary everyday lives of prisoners. This enables a conceptual and theoretical rethinking of escapes, their place and content in relation to prison sociality and implications for everyday life, and the revealing of emergent critiques of the notions of escape, freedom, confinement and subversions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahuya Bandyopadhyay
    • 1
  1. 1.Tata Institute of Social SciencesMumbaiIndia

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