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Sara M. Benson: “Locating Leavenworth: Prisons and Political Geography”
April 18, 2012 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm | Humanities 1, Room 320
This talk historicizes the placement of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary (the U.S. nation’s oldest and largest federal prison designed as a replica of the U.S. capitol building) at the center of the nation in the post-Reconstruction 1890s. Drawing on understandings of political geography from feminist and critical race studies, the talk traces the geography of prisons in what is now the U.S. Midwest, maps the border politics and competing claims to law that brought the federal prison to Kansas, and disrupts the conventional regional narrative of American prisons as North/South institutions. The talk locates Leavenworth in the afterlife of a civil war over slavery that began the Civil War and at the center of the federal strategy to establish, police, and dissolve Indian Territory.
Sara Benson received her Ph.D. from the Department of Politics and was part of the Designated Emphasis Program in Feminist Studies. She is now a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at UCLA.