I explore the landscape of carceral practices and geographies in late antique Roman North Africa by applying a comparative lens to carceral punishments of exile and condemnation to the mines. I situate the research within the field of carceral studies, using the concept of carceral practices and geographies (as opposed to the narrower concepts of prison and imprisonment). I first offer a contextualization of the punishments of exile and condemnation to the mines as carceral punishments, remaining especially sensitive to the legal, material, and spatial aspects of each punishment. I then consider how different North African Christians used their carceral punishments and geographies to negotiate issues of political and social power in the broader Roman Mediterranean, specifically the letter exchange between Cyprian and three other groups of Christians condemned to the mines (Ep. 76–79). I use the letter correspondence as a case study to explore the “real-and-imagined” aspects of carceral practices and geographies in Roman North Africa. The carceral punishments of exile and condemnation to the mines have legal, material, social, gendered, rhetorical, and lived-experience components, all of which are treated as distinct, yet also fluid and intersectional with each other. I conclude by gesturing to how the case study adds texture to our understanding of how carceral punishment worked in Late Antiquity.
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Research Article| December 01 2019
Carceral Practices and Geographies in Roman North Africa: A Case Study
Studies in Late Antiquity (2019) 3 (4): 547–580.
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Matthew D. C. Larsen; Carceral Practices and Geographies in Roman North Africa: A Case Study. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 December 2019; 3 (4): 547–580. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2019.3.4.547
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