Doing Time In The Depression: Everyday Life In Texas And California Prisons by Ethan BlueDoing Time In The Depression: Everyday Life In Texas And California Prisons by Ethan Blue

Doing Time In The Depression: Everyday Life In Texas And California Prisons

byEthan Blue

Hardcover | February 1, 2012

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As banks crashed, belts tightened, and cupboards emptied across the country, American prisons grew fat. Doing Time in the Depression tells the story of the 1930s as seen from the cell blocks and cotton fields of Texas and California prisons, state institutions that held growing numbers of working people from around the country and the world--overwhelmingly poor, disproportionately non-white, and displaced by economic crisis.

Ethan Blue paints a vivid portrait of everyday life inside Texas and California’s penal systems. Each element of prison life--from numbing boredom to hard labor, from meager pleasure in popular culture to crushing pain from illness or violence--demonstrated a contest between keepers and the kept. From the moment they arrived to the day they would leave, inmates struggled over the meanings of race and manhood, power and poverty, and of the state itself. In this richly layered account, Blue compellingly argues that punishment in California and Texas played a critical role in producing a distinctive set of class, race, and gender identities in the 1930s, some of which reinforced the social hierarchies and ideologies of New Deal America, and others of which undercut and troubled the established social order. He reveals the underside of the modern state in two very different prison systems, and the making of grim institutions whose power would only grow across the century.
Title:Doing Time In The Depression: Everyday Life In Texas And California PrisonsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:335 pages, 9.41 × 7.24 × 0.98 inPublished:February 1, 2012Publisher:NYU PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0814709400

ISBN - 13:9780814709405


Editorial Reviews

“In Doing Time in the Depression: Everyday Life in Texas and California Prisons, Ethan Blue demonstrates that these present problems originate in a troubled past. Long histories of conquest, colonialism, enslavement and exploitation produced the patterns that pervade prison systems past and present.  Court decisions and punitive practices that rendered people convicted of crimes as civilly dead in the nineteenth century provided the inner logic for a legal system that criminalized the survival strategies of oppressed people, protecting the propertied classes but in the process producing the very forms of non-normative behavior that the prison system purported to prevent. The prison system has functioned historically as a way of controlling and exploiting surplus labor. Yet all social structures ultimately revolve around human agency. Blue’s sophisticated research design and his extensive empirical research enable him to explore in this book the world that the prisoners made despite the many things they could not control.  He shows that the history of macrococial practices and institutions encompass micropolitics of oppression and opposition. Blue argues that inmate investments in particular understandings of masculinity tragically enabled prison administrators to foment a radical divisiveness across racial lines that impeded chances for class solidarity.”-George Lipsitz,Australasian Journal of American Studies