This book explores the profound transformations that prisons and offender rehabilitation programmes in Eastern Germany have undergone with respect to religion. Drawing on participant observation and interviews of inmates, ex-prisoners, chaplains and prison visitors, this book connects the institutional to individual: focusing on the religious changes individuals experience when they are imprisoned and released. Including comparative studies from Italy and Switzerland, Becci reveals that despite diverse local, historical, denominational, political and social contexts the transformation patterns of individuals' relationship to religion, and their use of religious resources, are strongly shaped by the total character of prisons. Becci also explores the difficulties faced by released people in keeping their religious life alive under the harsh conditions of social stigma in a highly secular outside society.
Irene Becci studied sociology and anthropology in Switzerland, Italy and the USA. She started to work on religion in prison for her doctoral dissertation and shifted in her post-doctoral research the focus on religion after prison in Eastern Germany. Since 2012 she has held, as an assistant professor, the chair of Emerging Religions and New Spiritualities at the University of Lausanne (CH).
’The subject of religious life in prison in all of its varied manifestations is an acutely under-researched area. This volume makes a significant contribution to our understanding through both theoretically and empirically informed chapters.’ Stephen J. Hunt, University of the West of England, UK ’This book combines theoretical sophistication with subtle analysis of vibrant interviews conducted with inmates and former inmates of prisons in Eastern Germany. The fascinating light that it throws on the place of religion in prisons challenges many assumptions about religion, the state, modernity and prisons. The contribution that it makes towards our understanding of recent changes in inmates' experiences of religion and incarceration will be invaluable to a wide range of social scientists and policy makers.’ James A. Beckford, University of Warwick, UK 'It is rare to come across a book whose author is able to synthesize and apply interdisciplinary approaches and theories to a project of such contemporary significance and originality... The research upon which the book is based reflects the skills of a sensitive qualitative fieldworker... the quality of the interview extracts used to illustrate the discussion in Imprisoned Religion is itself an indication of the methodological rigour upon which the research for the book is based, enabling us to derive confidence in the many insights that emerge.' Criminal Law & Criminal Justice Books ’...the regional and time perspective is something new in the field of religion and prison studies and is a very good contribution to those studies in different social and national contexts.’ RASCEE ’...a view of upheavals in political and social culture seen through the lens of religion. It is also a measured and balanced addition to the literature of secularity as well as a skilfully strategic deployment of ethnographic data.’ JOBV ’..this is a rich collection of research material, the fruit of much erudition