The Virtual Reality of Imprisonment in Russia : “Preparing myself for Prison” in a Contested Human Rights Landscape book cover
1st Edition

The Virtual Reality of Imprisonment in Russia
“Preparing myself for Prison” in a Contested Human Rights Landscape

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after April 8, 2022
ISBN 9781138103351
April 8, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
296 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

In outlining the online expressions of penal life, this book disrupts the conventional human encounters that underpin empirical criminological scholarship on prisons because, figuratively speaking, prisons in Russia are de-nesting from their institutional moorings and borders.

Using the online world of Runet as the research site and presenting research from selectively drawn evidence gathered from secondary data from prison-related websites, it explores the ‘moving walls’ of the prison from socio-political and cultural perspectives. The book discusses how prisoners and their families articulate and give meaning to their experiences when they are online, and while doing so develop their rights awareness.

This book is a pioneering methodological, criminological and theoretical study, the first of its kind in global criminology and humanities, and because it is forging a new path for penal scholarship, cannot be all-encompassing but rather acts as a ‘map’ for other researchers in different fields to use. It will be useful for scholars working in comparative fields and jurisdictions on the subject of prisons, rights and how the internet is being utilised by prisoners, their families and communities organised around prison activism.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Against the past or towards the future?

1. Russia, 1991: carceral modernisation begins, prison doors shaken?

2. Methodology: being locked up and ‘being free online’

3. Conceptualising carceralilty and human rights in prisons

4. Pain and banality of jail: ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’

5. Seeking life, looking for justice: rights consciousness of prisoners and their families

6. Prisoners’ rights and the online world in the global context


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Laura Piacentini is Professor of Criminology and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. A trained Russian speaker, she has been researching Russian prisons since 1994. She is widely recognised, through grant capture, articles and books, as a leading international expert on Russian penal culture. Her work is multi-disciplinary and she is a passionate advocate for innovative research methods. She is a penal abolitionist.

Elena Katz is a Tutor in Russian Studies, at the Department of Continuing Education, and Senior Member and College Advisor at St Antony’s College at The University Oxford. She has published widely in the humanities and cultural studies and more recently on Russia’s penal forms where she has collaborated on research studies. Her most recent book is a collaboration with Judith Pallot: Waiting at the Prison Gate: Women, Identity and the Russian Penal System (2017).