SC State to celebrate history professor’s book: “Prison Architecture and Punishment in Colonial Senegal”

Dr. Dior Konaté

On Thursday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m., SC State will host a celebration of history professor Dr. Dior Konaté’s new book, “Prison Architecture and Punishment in Colonial Senegal.” The celebration will include a panel discussion, book signing, reception and remarks by Dr. Learie Luke, acting provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. The event will be held on the campus of SC State in the Nance Hall auditorium, room 106.

On October 12, Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield, published Konaté’s book. Lexington Books publishes stand-alone titles and titles in a broad range of series that span the social sciences and humanities.

According to its website, “Lexington Books takes great pride in its unwavering commitment to publishing specialized research essential to advanced scholarship. We continue to publish high-quality peer-reviewed monographs and edited collections by established and emerging scholars.”

In “Prison Architecture and Punishment in Colonial Senegal,” a book funded by National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, Konaté provides a rigorously researched and illuminating study of prison architecture in colonial and post-colonial Senegal, highlighting the architecture of repression and cultures of violence inherent in colonial prison systems. The analysis of the spatial locations of prisons and architectures of prisons delivers new insights into the punitive functioning of imprisonment, and the weaknesses of colonial ‘disciplinary’ regimes in Senegal. Konaté focuses on recovering prisoners’ voices and nuances helpful in understanding the various aspects of incarceration.

Since the publication of Michel Foucault’s book, “Discipline and Punish,” research has investigated the emergence of the prison systems in Europe and North America, mainly the connection between institutional architecture, techniques of social control and mechanisms of discipline.

“Prison Architecture and Punishment in Colonial Senegal” asks if these connections actually existed in colonial Senegal since prisons in Africa had never been the focus of such a study. Konaté’s book addresses three main themes. First, it analyzes prison buildings and their changing architectural forms throughout the colonial period to highlight how the French used prison architecture to control Africans. Second, it describes the connections between the internal layout of prison spaces and punishment to show how the design of prisons expressed the notions of punishment and reforms.

The book also undertakes a critical assessment of inmates’ agency in reshaping the world of prisons in colonial Senegal. Finally, it discusses the legacy of colonial prisons in independent Senegal. By examining the history of prison architecture in colonial Senegal, Konaté’s book adds a new dimension to the processes and motives behind the production of architectural styles in colonial Africa and helps insert Africa into a more global history by providing a uniquely comparative study of colonialism, architecture and punishment.

A tenured history professor, Konaté, has published various scholarly works. She authored several peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, dictionary entries and book reviews. In 2010, she received an award from the division of Academic Affairs for excellence in research and scholarship.

Dr. Benedict Jua, professor of political sciences and chair of the university’s Department of Social Sciences, will lead the panel discussion during the event. Konaté will offer her remarks as well. Other panelists include SC State history professors, Dr. Larry Watson, and Dr. Stanley Harrold.

The book signing and reception will follow the panel discussion. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

For more information about the event, contact Dr. Benedict Jua at (803) 536-8969, (803)536-8169, [email protected] or Dr. Dior Konaté at (803) 536-7946, [email protected]

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