This article discusses two intertwined forms of care that engage with incarcerated women in Argentina. First, it examines the consequences of a policy change that allows incarcerated women who are pregnant and/or caregivers of small children to serve their time at home. Institutional confinement extends beyond the prison and has taken various forms, such as the shelter, the asylum, relocation centers, and prison camps. Inspired by recent prison studies that disrupt the prison as a fixed and hardened site, this article contends that house arrest is far from a benefit. Rather, home confinement constitutes a site of neglect where women must fend for themselves to perform reproductive labor as a way to complete their sentence. This practice reveals new forms of social control and state surveillance in which judges, social workers, and penitentiaries determine which women are appropriate for house arrest while policing the terms of their confinement. Second, this article presents the author’s fieldwork involving a women’s collective that offers art-related workshops to encourage incarcerated women to develop a different understanding of their agency and potential. Institutions such as neighborhood and women’s collectives offer new forms of sociality that redefine imprisonment. As women under house arrest are expected to provide for themselves and their children, it is important to understand how they meet such challenges, considering how gender norms and institutional violence impact women’s lives today.
Deviant Motherhood: House Arrest and Social Belonging in Argentina
Leyla Savloff is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. Her dissertation, “Entre Nosotres: The Social and Political Spheres of Women against Prisons,” examines enactments of freedom and creative responses to the criminal justice system by a women’s collective in Argentina.
Leyla Savloff; Deviant Motherhood: House Arrest and Social Belonging in Argentina. Social Text 1 March 2020; 38 (1 (142)): 67–88. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7971103
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