UCR Magazine The Magazine of UC Riverside

Fall 2014

Past Issues

Insidious Trauma and Mass Incarceration

A personal connection to incarceration situates a professor's academic work

Tiffany López

To be traumatized is precisely to be possessed by an image or event. The traumatized, we might say, carry an impossible history within them, or they become themselves the symptom of a history they cannot entirely possess.

Cathy Caruth, Trauma: Explorations in Memory

To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins victim and witness in a common alliance. For the individual victim, this social context is created by relationships with friends, lovers, and family. For the larger society, the social context is created by political movements that give voice to the disempowered. The systematic study of psychological trauma therefore depends on the support of a political movement. In the absence of strong political movements for human rights, the active process of bearing witness inevitably gives way to the active process of forgetting.

Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery

In response to José Montoya’s inquiry as to the best Chicano poem ever written, Miguel Piñero declared, “It’s right here on my arm,” and rolled up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo reading, “Mi Vida Loca,” my crazy life.

Patricia Herrera, Staging Nuyorican Belonging

At a recent panel I moderated for the exhibition Geographies of Detention: From Guantántamo to the Golden Gulag, curated by Catherine Gudis and Molly McGarry (California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA, 2013), an audience member asked the artists to clarify what they meant by the violence of mass incarceration. Several of the panelists, myself included, had situated our work as an outgrowth of having a personal connection to the subject matter as either a former prisoner or as a family member supporting an incarcerated relative. It is the latter position I inhabit and that directs this essay’s discussion of insidious trauma and what visual artist Alyse Emdur in her book Prison Landscapes refers to as the “collateral damage” of mass incarceration, the violence absorbed by prisoners’ families.

It’s not always easy or possible to speak about trauma from within the vortex of traumatic events. As Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub well illustrate in their foundational bookTestimony, documenting trauma and creating a space for healing through the practice of sharing testimony requires the presence of those who commit themselves to the role of the witness as not just one who listens but one who actively fosters both the stories and the tellers. The Geographies of Detention exhibition provides the anchor for this essay’s discussion of the insidious violence of mass incarceration. I’ve envisioned the curators and the artists as witnesses; and the example of their work inspires and provokes me to add my own testimonio to the critical archive they have assembled about mass incarceration, an archive I read as also very much about the processing of trauma.

Trauma studies is interested in the articulation of crisis, the practices of survival, and the complex forging of healing. The described experience of violence as “the unspeakable” is rooted in a lack of perceived discourse. Without being able to name or identify, we are unable to give language to something, and subsequently we remain unable to recognize crisis, enact change, or design remedy. Through juridical processes and geographic separation, prisoners – and their plight – become disappeared from society, effectively constructing inmates and their families as inhabitants of the unspeakable. Most prisons are located in areas designed to sequester them from society and thus keep the freighted reality of prison and its difficult problems hidden from public consciousness. While the U.S. accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, it hosts 25 percentof the global prison population. Nearly one and a half million American children have a parent in prison (Emdur). It is estimated that 1 out of 4 men of color in the United States can expect to be routed into the system of incarceration at some point within their lifetime. Nationwide, California ranks first in its spending on prisons with more than 80 cents put towards prisons for every dollar spent on higher education (Bliss et al). The suicide rate in California’s over-crowded prisons is nearly twice the national average, and one inmate dies every eight days from inadequate medical care (Rohr). California courts have been and continued to be filled with numerous cases calling for health care to be brought up to constitutional standards and for the prevention of cruel and unusual punishment resulting from “out-of-control overcrowding.” (Gudis and McGarry).

In responding to the audience member’s call to define the forms of violence associated with mass incarceration, I shared about my own experiences witnessing my brother do time: the eight years he’d been assigned in the notorious Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison and the toll this had on his already unstable mental health; the loss of nearly all of his teeth due to poor diet, poor conditions of hygiene, and lack of consistent access to medical care and treatment; his accounts of the unrelenting stress of living in a situation requiring constant vigilance and at times forced combat as a mode of survival in an environment created by the state’s devising of reprehensibly compacted dwelling conditions. Forced for eight years to dwell in a tiny room with no access to resources and allowed outside only once a day for sixty minutes; being restricted to nutritionally poor food sources despite living in what many consider the world’s agricultural capital; being confined in a living environment known to be violent and abusive with no options for avoidance: framing these events apart from the context of prison, one would be hard pressed to deny them as conditions of violence. Context is key to how we see, as illustrated by the Geography of Detention exhibition curators’ purposeful juxtaposition of two photographs by Richard Ross, an interior view of a prison cell in Guantánamo and a twin photograph of an interior view of a prison cell in the U.S. Why does one prison garner our collective outrage over violence committed in our name as citizens and the other our benign neglect even support? The reality is that both prisons exist in tandem and occupy a shared spectrum of violence.

Lopez 2Feminist scholar and psychoanalyst Laura Brown offers the term “insidious trauma” to signal forms of violence that, because they are viewed as an ongoing feature of a social landscape or occur in marginalized communities, do not get readily recognized or identified as traumatic, and therefore remain invisible to the dominant culture, particularly those who set the registers for recognition, diagnosis, and treatment. For example, the behaviors associated with trauma (brain fog, mood swings, obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions) that are also experienced by many children who grow up in the battleground of extreme urban poverty where they are exposed daily to vacillating forms of oppression and violence are seldom if ever read as traumatic. Rather, their violence is codified as part of the landscape that characterizes life in urban America. Many theorists of Latina/o studies, myself among them, consider extreme poverty and the legacy of colonization as insidious forms of trauma. Victims of such insidious trauma often engage in violence (gang activity, domestic disruption, self harm) as a performative language that desperately signals their quest to convey outrage and obtain agency. These conditions become cyclic with the wounds of insidious trauma reverberating into the generations and becoming all the more invisible, all the more ingrained into the public consciousness as a natural part of the landscape. Children of incarcerated parents are at astronomically high risk of growing up and themselves being routed into the prison system. I think about this every time I visit the prison and see the children in the waiting room display wildly shifting behavior that communicates their struggle to understand the incomprehensible. I wonder about the unresolved rage and frustration they will carry forward. I’ve been lucky to have grown up in California in the 1970s prior to the passing of Proposition 13 which severed spending on public education from state funding derived from property tax. Summers were filled with arts activities in the public parks and trips to libraries where I was given access to a range of languages that over time yielded a vocabulary to later employ in navigating through experiences of trauma and violence. But in today’s California, where will our children find those tools?

My brother and I together are both products of an incredibly violent family environment headed by a physically and emotionally raging alcoholic father. At the age of fifteen, I had a startling vision: if I were to remain at home another day, I or someone else in my family would surely die. I remember packing my school bag with a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and some books, knowing I would not be back and that the world as I knew it would be no more. I called Children’s Protective Services, my siblings were removed from the home, and my mother disappeared not to resurface for three years. My charismatic father convinced the courts he’d repair all, and my brother and sister were returned to his care. As girls, to my father my sister and I were disposable since we would become the property and problem of other men. I was able to leave home at the age of 15. But not my brother; he had a much different role as the lone son, the appointed male screen that confirmed, reflected, and challenged my father’s life. My brother stayed at home into his adulthood desperately waiting for his father’s blessing. He suffered from what prison writer and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal terms “father hunger.” It’s a lot of work to quell the internalized voice of our abusers, the incessant blaring of negative self talk by a disc jockey who has hacked into our private self-talk and taken over the airwaves with a constant rewriting of the scripts we attempt to carefully author for ourselves. One night I get a call from my sister: something happened that ended with my brother killing our father. I imagined my brother at the jail and what he must be feeling. He was not yet able to fathom that he’d traded one situation of violence and trauma for another.

Testimonio is the genre of Latina/o cultural production most devoted to illustrating the characteristics and dynamics of insidious trauma. Within Latina/o cultural production, the area of my expertise for over three decades, there is a very small body of work that dares to thematically represent the experiences of Latinas/os and incarceration (both literal and metaphoric), and each uses personal experience as the springboard for critical and artistic engagement. Some examples include Miguel Pinero’s play, Short Eyes; Gloria Anzaldua’s multi-genre feminist narrative, Borderlands/La Frontera; Cherríe Moraga’s revolutionary memoir, Loving in the War Years; Josie Mendez-Negrete’s incest narrative, Las Hijas de Juan: Daughter’s Remembered; Luis Rodriguez’s memoir, Mi Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA; and Joseph Rodriguez’s photography collection on incarcerated youth, Juvenile. To date the highly interdisciplinary field of trauma studies has focused little if any discussion on the experiences of traumatic violence represented by Latina/o culture, lives, authors or artists. As a heterogeneous cultural group, Latinas/os experience the same forms of trauma that take place within the general population – catastrophic accidents, domestic violence, physical assault, the generational transmission of unresolved familial wounds – as well as forms of violence that are culturally specific, such as lack of access due to structural racism, the parentification of children due to language barriers, the separating or splitting up of families caused by immigration. In the essay collection Prison Masculinities, the editors write about the incarcerated as easily scapegoated members of society due to the ways they are so effectively disappeared through juridical processes and geographic separation. Subsequently, the difficult, complex, and horrific workings of the prison system are also kept out of the public consciousness. In the dominant culture, Latinas/os (who along with African Americans represent the largest demographic within California’s prisons) are featured predominantly as marginal subjects: gang members, “illegal aliens,” domestic workers, unskilled labor. This field of representation visually does the work of scapegoating and segregation. Because we are not figured as an integral and vital part of society, our harm is constructed as inconsequential and of no impact on the well being of the larger shared body of public citizenship. Therefore, our wounds, like our people, remain hyper-present yet invisible and unrecognized even blatantly disregarded.

Poverty is a form of economic violence, and one of the first orders of punishment delivered by the state is to force prisoners to become indigent. This punishment is readily extended to families, most of whom are already poor, by giving them the “option” to either participate in enforcing the inmate’s financial punishment by doing nothing or to alleviate it by posting payment so that the inmate can purchase things most of us would define as necessary, i.e. phone calls to family, an extra set of underwear, a fan for enclosed room during the summer months, morning coffee or tea. If you have a modicum of available resources, is it an option to financially abandon someone you love? This is the terrible position into which the state puts families of the incarcerated. The logic: you have a choice whether or not to support a criminal, and if you choose to do so, you willingly consent to the consequences that follow. You are asked to willingly embrace being a participant in the system of punishment.

To give any level of support to an inmate requires absorbing stress from the endured frustrations and humiliations inflicted by the system and the discordant movement between the world of the prison and the world outside. The minute one steps onto prison grounds one is scrutinized, searched, and treated as a low level prisoner merely by association with the incarcerated. Cars and bodies are searched and screened. Women visitors cannot wear underwire support bras, and each item of clothing is carefully inspected for how much skin it reveals or suggests. I’ve seen an elderly woman in a wheelchair on a sweltering summer’s day wearing a blouse with flutter sleeves told to go change with the rationale that it’s too provocative for a female visitor to reveal the upper flesh of the arm. A shirt deemed to have too wide of an armhole is termed a “fondling garment,” language that speaks to thwarting humanity more so than securing safety. Pants with metal hook fasteners, a typical closure, are also not allowed. Neither are certain types of buttons, embellishments, colors and fabrics. While there are rules posted on the Department of Corrections website, ultimately every decision is at the discretion of the prison. After driving the incredible distance one must traverse to the prison, in order to ensure a visit takes place, one must take an insurance policy of multiple changes of clothes for any requested costume changes. Given that visiting time is such a precious commodity, the best bet is to wear something unadorned, formless and black that covers the body from head to toe. This attire has become my costume of choice, one also worn for occasions of grief and mourning.

In his essay “Hell Factories in the Field: A Prison Industrial Complex,” Mike Davis reports that among his interview responses from residents of Calipatria, California about being home to a state prison, one woman complained of the weekend “deluge” by prisoners’ families arriving from five hours away in Los Angeles. From her comments Davis discerned, “Unlike their husbands and fathers, who are only abstractions to the locals, the families are tangible embodiments of urban disorder. Their misdemeanors, from sleeping in their cars to smoking pot in public, fill town gossip with new apprehensions” (Bliss et all). Reading this account within the context of insidious trauma allows one to discern that such behaviors as listening to loud music and smoking marijuana are indicators of the burdensome levels of stress that visitors work to quell by the means at their immediate disposal. Additionally, the account provided by Davis’ interview subject reveals the level of stress that general citizens are also asked to absorb. There is a rippling effect of the forms of wounding inflicted by the prison industrial complex.

A major cog within the prison industrial complex is communications technology with workings that are nearly entirely invisible from the general public but absolutely central to thinking about insidious trauma and mass incarceration. In California and largely nationwide, in order for an inmate to make a phone call, family or friends must purchase pre-paid phone cards. When I called Global Tel Link, a company recommended by my brother, they offered no clear information about the cost of calls. Inquiring about the details of service, I was told to first put money on the card and then I’d learn the exact cost when the inmate called. My further investigations lead to several websites posting hundreds of complaints from frustrated family members about not receiving promised service until they put additional funds on the card or used a card and then discovered calls would not be delivered unless a minimum of $7-10 is kept on the card. Families are financially held hostage and forced to become accomplices in a system of abuse. This is the cost they must absorb for refusing to forsake a family member. As an educator, the state holds me responsible to report witnessed abuses in the classroom. As the sister of an incarcerated brother, it asks that I do nothing about the abuse I witness in prison.

Lopez3In their curators’ notes for Geographies of Detention, Gudis and McGarry describe the state of California as “an archipelago of prisons that is both omnipresent and routinely hidden from view.” Included in the exhibition are Sandow Birk’s landscape paintings from hisPRISONATION series (published in the catalogue INCARCERATED: Visions of California in the 21st Century) featuring portraits of all 33 of California’s state prisons. Birk began the project after hearing a radio report that California had the largest prison population in the world. Birk has a remarkably keen eye and hand; his work conveys a crisp sense of detail regarding color, perspective, and light. In such pieces as “Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) – Crescent City, CA” and “Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) – Blythe, CA,” Birk employs the aesthetics of classic landscape painting to draw attention to the myths and the horrors of the American dream and the history of westward expansion now writ large in California’s ongoing crisis of mass incarceration. To produce each painting, Birk travelled throughout the state studying the landscape and the presence of the prisons within those vistas. As a native Californian who spent one half of her growing up years in Southern California and the other in Northern California, I find Birk’s landscapes aesthetically fabulous and emotionally evocative renderings of the state’s vast natural beauty, from the coastal meadows to the high desert. In them, I see the many places in the state where I have lived and visited. However, there are four paintings in Birk’s series that particularly leap out of the frame. They are the four prisons where my brother has thus far been incarcerated.

The day after the Geographies of Detention panel, I drive the many hours it takes to visit my brother at the prison with Birk’s portrait as a new visual signpost. I follow the fork in the road where the highway hits the turnoff road, the asphalt tributary that will run for over a mile and end at the prison. The framing of the scene is just as Birk has represented it, a visually quiet but nonetheless poignant juxtaposition of nature and architecture/technology, each now mutually informing the other. The images call attention to what nature has made and, by contrast, to what man has made.

Inside the prison there are other landscapes to contemplate: the murals and paintings by prisoners put on display in the visiting room as backdrops for the pictures prisoners might take with their loved ones. Such photographs can only be taken on visiting day. To have a photograph taken with family, an inmate has to be fortunate enough to have visitors but also fortunate enough to have family and/or friends who put money on the books to enable the purchase of the ducats necessary to realize the opportunity of the photograph. My brother has mixed feelings about this because he wants us to have a photograph to remember him by, but he also resents our putting money on his books because the state takes 60% of every dollar we send. These photos are documentary evidence of our time together but also our shared practice of enduring pain. Flipped together the photos present a documentary about the violence of incarceration illustrated by the visible erosion of my brother’s body: his receding jaw, shrinking frame, withering spirit. There I am, pretending he has never looked better. The prison landscape frames our time together. If it weren’t for the distinct uniform of the prison blues and the drabness of the imposed costume I must wear to gain entrance for visitation, you might think we were somewhere else. Maybe; if you ever had the occasion to see one of these photographs.

Lopez 4The Geographies of Detention exhibition includes Alyse Emdur’s Prison Landscapes (also the title of the published volume containing much of this work), an emotionally stunning installation of prison mural backdrop art canvases and prison visiting room photography, a genre of visual art typically only seen by inmates, visitors and prison employees. These include correspondences from the inmates and the photographs they shared with Emdur as a result of their exchanged letters about her project. The artist affirms, “This collection acknowledges an important perspective that is rarely seen or heard – the experience of friends and family who are forced to relate to this system.” Prison Landscapes includes the project’s launching photographs of Emdur and her brother in front of several backdrops revealed to be of those of the prison visiting rooms that punctuate her growing up years. Emdur also includes in the installation a series of mural backdrops painted by inmate Darrell van Mastrigt in his cell at Graterford State Prison. When she first conceptualized the project, Emdur was initially entirely focused on the genre of prison visiting room murals, but she soon found it difficult to impossible to gain access to study them. Her research began with developing correspondences to inmates asking if they’d share photos they’d taken in front of these murals. What began as a creative way to gain documentation soon added another dimension to the project. As Emdur’s archive began to expand, she grew more interested in the relationship of the inmates and their families to the murals.

0833_PrisonLandscapes_ins.55.inddReflecting on her own family photographs, Emdur remembered how the backdrop of the sunset and palm trees made it possible for her to envision introducing her brother as simply that rather than “her brother in prison.” To friends who might see the photo, the picture could have been taken on vacation or in a portrait studio. About the installation Emdur shares, “These paintings, like the portrait studio backdrops, are used to create a brief escape from the architecture and culture of confinement.” Emdur also emphasizes the darker parts of the illusions facilitated by these paintings, specifically that they are somehow outside the prison’s system of surveillance. Notably, most of the mural backdrops are painted under the watch of a guard or another form of secured monitoring. Emdur explains, “These visiting room portraits, which intentionally hide what is outside the frame and gloss over the struggles of being locked up, are one of the few accessible visual entrances into this system.” However, Emdur clarifies that it is because they provide a visual distraction they are even supported by the prison, but not in the ways we might initially think. From the staff’s perspective, a photograph in front of a mural backdrop gives no visual information about security regarding the architecture or technology of the prison. Prison Landscapesthus provides visitors with an important opportunity to contemplate how the museum and the state differently frame our relationships to visual, natural, and lived landscapes.

As Judith Herman reminds us in the quote included at the onset of this essay, “The systematic study of psychological trauma depends on the support of a political movement.” It is significant that the Geographies of Detention exhibition includes work that crosses so many genres, mediums, and voices and clearly speaks of political movements as an integral part of the project. There is the multi-media Guantánamo Memory Project curated by eleven universities, including UCR, that examines how the naval base has been “closed” and reopened for more than a century leading up to the attacks on September 11, 2001 and serves as a potent case study for debates about torture, detention, national security and human rights. Also included are several gripping documentaries that provide audiences with a critical context and most importantly a critical vocabulary to harness the act of witnessing towards engaged thinking about the current state of crisis around mass incarceration globally but particularly in the museum’s home state of California. These films include Setsu Shigematsu’s Visions of Abolition (2011) about the prison industrial complex that weaves together the voices of women caught in the criminal justice system with leading scholars and organizers of the prison abolition movement and features the work of A New Way of Life Reentry Project and Critical Resistance; Ashley Hunt’s A Prison in the Fields (2001) considers why, where, and how prisons get built in remote communities and is part of her ongoing “Corrections Documentary Project” on the growth and commercialization of the U.S. prison system and the field of contemporary globalization; and 184 Californians Read the 184-page U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Plata-Coleman Decision on Overcrowding in California State Prisons (2010-11) by the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), a theater company of people living and working in Los Angeles as community outreach artists and services advocates for those inhabiting the 55-block area known as Skid Row, a massive zone characterized by extreme poverty and homelessness. It is also where one-third of the State’s parolees settle (Cudis and McGarry).

I am one of the readers featured in this film, having been invited to participate along with other selected audience members who were present at a Los Angeles Poverty Department performance of their play States of Incarceration (Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica California, 2011). This incredibly powerful theater piece is devised to give audiences a sense of the experiences of incarceration from the perspective of inmates. Many Los Angeles Poverty Department members are themselves former inmates involved in theater making as a means to facilitate their own reentry as well as engage in outreach. As Los Angeles Poverty Department member Kevin Michael Key shared during the Geographies of Detention artists’ panel discussion, theater has provided the opportunity to physically and mentally visit new spaces with each project assisting in shifting perspective and building strength through the organic process of being personally tested and called into leadership both individually and collectively. The acronym “LAPD” reminders that just because things read as one thing doesn’t mean they can’t be shifted to read as something else that is more empowering and liberating.

Lopez 6In the LAPD’s performances of States of Incarceration they design the space to replicate the conditions of overcrowding in the California prison system where gymnasium sized rooms are crammed with highly stacked bunk beds to facilitate the mass warehousing of prisoners. Audiences arrive to find their theater seats on the bunk beds. As the room fills, it quickly becomes hot and uncomfortable as one’s sense of personal space shrinks. The cast members arrive and recreate their experiences living incarcerated under such conditions. There is overwhelming noise, micro-aggressions, testing of character, ongoing threats of violence, confrontations, and blow-ups. But there is also the complexity of experience. The performance poignantly makes audiences aware of how inmates create community and administer healing in acts of the everyday, things that from the outside, out of context, might not read as anything significant. The play concludes with the ritual of “the spread,” a communal meal sharing of foodstuffs that prisoners cull together. I ask my brother about this, and he tells of the spreads that he’s attended and emphasizes how important these gatherings are for inmates, most especially those who are completely without any resources. On the Los Angeles Poverty Department website, a former inmate recalls,

I was thrown into the county jail for six months for not completing my year-long domestic violence classes. I was transferred to Wayside County jail to do my time. My money hadn’t caught up with me yet. But the guys I was hanging out with invited me to the spread. It made me feel like a part of a family. It took about a month before I got any money but I was invited to the spread every time they had one, which was about four times a week. The feeling of being accepted was overwhelming.

I tell my brother about my experience of the spread as recreated within the performance ofStates of Incarceration, describing how I witnessed the actors put all of the ingredients into a garbage bag, knead it into a giant compressed stew, and then offer it on paper plates for the audience to sample. I note how most are emotionally moved by the performance but have a hard time eating what I know is a delicacy and represents an incredible act of generosity through sharing these extremely precious resources. My brother admits the spread is probably not appealing to those of us on the outside, but he conveys how delicious and meaningful it is to have a meal creatively prepared and eaten under one’s own selected time, effort, and hand. He reports that when inmates are sent to the prison chow hall, they are given ten minutes to eat their food in silence. My brother says now he’s losing his teeth, he has a lot of difficulty eating everything in that short of a time and is developing stomach problems since he can’t fully chew his food. To get enough nutrition, he has to consume his food in swallowed gulps rather than careful bites.

We talk like this in the prison visiting room, where over the duration of our four to five hour visit, we share foodstuff and create the semblance of meals with the only choices we are given by the state: items in vending machines purchased by quarters carefully counted into the clear plastic bag that also holds my identification card and is the only kind of purse I’m allowed into the prison. In my life outside, to maintain my health, I do not consume junk food. My brother is desperate for our hands to dip into the same bag of food, for our plastic spoons to touch the same plate, for us to share in the gastronomic pleasures found in sugar and salt. I follow from the recipe of the spread, heating the mini-taquitos and smashing the spicy corn chips into a dipping powder that might substitute for salsa. As I wait for my brother to arrive, I spy a rarity in the vending machine: processed cheese sticks. I break them into cubes that I scatter over chips, putting all in the microwave to then have an improvised plate of nachos steaming hot and ready for my brother’s arrival completed by the accompaniment of a cold can of soda. My brother appears, and we exchange the one hug and kiss we are allowed at the top of the visit. Then he looks at table and declares, “What a feast!” And so we commence our time together within the prison visiting room searching out moments for improvisation within the theater of mass incarceration.


Special appreciation goes to the following people for the role they played in helping to inspire, evolve, and realize the work of this essay: My Brother; Sandow Birk; Ella Diaz; Alyse Emdur; Greg Finton; Harry Gamboa, Jr.; Catherine Gudis; Patricia Herrera; Jorge Huerta; Kevin Michael Key and the Los Angeles Poverty Department; Jacqueline Lazu; Molly McGarry; Joseph Rodriguez, Jr.; Setsu Shigematsu; and Maurice Stevens. I would also like to thank Joanna Szupinska-Myers, Curator of Exhibitions at the California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, for assisting in the securing of permissions for work from the exhibition Geographies of Detention: From Guantánamo to the Golden Gulag (June 1 – September 7, 2013).


Gloria Anzaldúa. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza. (aunt lute press, San Francisco, 1987).

Sandow Birk. Incarcerated: Visions of California in the 21st Century (Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, 2001).

Sharon Bliss, Kevin Chen, Steve Dickison, Mark Johnson and Rebeka Rodriguez, eds. Prison Culture (City Lights, San Francisco, 2009).

Laura S. Brown. “Not Outside the Range: One Feminist Perspective on Psychic Trauma” inTrauma Explorations in Memory, Cathy Caruth, ed. (1995).

Cathy Caruth, ed. Trauma: Explorations in Memory (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1995).

Mike Davis. “Hell Factories in the Field: A Prison Industrial Complex” in Prison Culture, Sharon Bliess et al., eds. (2009).

Alyse Emdur. Prison Landscapes (Four Corners Books, London, 2012).

Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub. Testimony: Crisis of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (Routledge, New York, 1992).

Catherine Gudis and Molly McGarry. Gallery Guide – Geographies of Detention: From Guantánamo to the Golden Gulag (California Museum of Photograpy, Riverside, CA 2013).

Judith Herman. Trauma and Recovery: the aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror. (Basic Books, New York, 1992).

Los Angeles Poverty Department. “States of Incarceration” (information, performance history, quores, and recipe for “the spread”). www.lapovertydept.org/state-of-incarceration/idenx.php.
Josie Méndez-Negrete. Las hijas de Juan: Daughters Betrayed (Duke University Press, Durham, 2006).

Cherríe Moraga. Loving in the War Years / lo que nunca pasó por sus labios (South End Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000).

Chon Noriega. Urban Exile: Collected Writings of Harry Gamboa Jr. (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1998).

Miguel Piñero. Short Eyes (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 1974).

Joseph Rodriguez. Juvenile (Powerhouse Books, New York, 2004).

Luis J. Rodríguez. Always Running: La Vida Loca – Gang Days in L.A. (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994).

Nicolette Rohr. “Geographies of Detention: Inside and From Afar, UCR ARTSblock.”http:www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/riverside/geographies-of-detention-ucr-california-museum-of-photography.html.
Don Sabo, Terry Kupers, Willie London, eds. Prison Masculinities (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2001).


This essay was originally published in the online journal Oppositional Conversations