Surveillance, Discipline, and the Ins and Outs of Prison for Overstayers and Undocumented Workers in Hong Kong
AbstractThis essay reflects on the prison stories of three women migrant workers in Hong Kong. All three women initially entered Hong Kong as domestic workers, then overstayed their visas and worked illegally before surrendering to immigration and serving prison time. Their stories of life inside and outside of prison raise many questions, especially about the forms of power and control they encountered. Drawing from what Deleuze, building on Foucault, has provocatively characterized as “societies of discipline” and “societies of control” (1992), I show how both sorts of discipline and control (and punitive sovereign ones) coexist in migrant’s lives. Prison, as Foucault described, is characterized by carceral forms of discipline aimed at reforming individuals. Women’s experiences of prison, I argue, are colored by its conventional disciplinary form and function, including expectations of post-incarceration societal reincorporation. Life outside of prison, by contrast, is characterized by more fluid and diffuse assemblages, information technologies, and networks of control. The lives of overstayers before prison, can offer them freedom and temporary escape from networks of control, but also produce anxiety, fear, and exclusion. These women’s experiences thus point to limitations and provocative aspects of Foucault and Deleuze’s models, and to ways in which migratory lives are shaped and characterized by multiple types of control and discipline.
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Copyright (c) 2016 Nicole Constable
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.