The Carceral State: An American Story

Aisha Khan

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    This article reviews key works in the anthropology of mass incarceration, generated by anthropologists and their interlocutors whose research is directed outside physical sites of imprisonment. My geographical focus is on the United States during the last decade's political and economic Zeitgeist, shaped by the manifestations and consequences of the carceral state and the prison industrial complex. My discussion is also guided by research invigorated by anthropology's decolonizing drive and growing concern about racism within and outside the academy. Along the way, and emphasized in the final section, I make the case that anthropology's abiding interest in kinship is a productive approach for configuring our understanding of the American carceral state and the racial landscapes of carcerality. The research reviewed shows how deeply carcerality is embedded in race, illuminating its destructiveness in Black and brown communities, yet also revealing the creation of regenerative spaces of kinship.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)49-66
    Number of pages18
    JournalAnnual review of anthropology
    StatePublished - Oct 24 2022


    • abolition
    • belonging
    • decolonizing anthropology
    • incarceration
    • kinship
    • race

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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