Podcast Episode

Inside, Outside, In-between: Elderly ex-offenders and the politics of exclusion

[Recorded 6 November 2019] Following decades of low fertility and long average lifespans, Japan's aging society is currently undergoing a social and demographic transformation on a scale never before seen in human history. Concerns about the care of Japan's aging population has concentrated either on the provision of formal care services through the Long-Term Care Insurance system or on the support of unpaid family and community carers. But what about older people who fall through the social 'safety net' of care? For more and more older people, one consequence of the Japan's aging society has been an increased risk of going to prison, usually as a result of minor nonviolent property crimes. As the prison population ages, guards and fellow prisoners become care assistants, while facilities, daily routines, food, and even the architecture of prisons are all become adapted to the older body. In many ways, it appears that in the aging society, prisons become nursing homes. This talk examines the lifeworlds of older ex-offenders to try to learn how this deepening connection between prison and social welfare is reshaping what it means to grow old in today's Japan. In particular, I look at the temporality of the carceral condition, as reflected in the rhythm of re-offending that has emerged as an alternative to the isolation and alienation of aging in the community. Is this rhythm and repetition an echo of other patterns of care and the life course? Or is it best seen as the inescapable machine of governmentality? Or perhaps there is something in-between (間), a space suspended in contradictions of frailty and violence, connection and separation, in and out?


Jason Danely (Oxford Brookes University)






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