Rethinking mobility in criminology: beyond horizontal mobilities of prisoner transportation

Jennifer Turner, Kimberley Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Typically, to be incarcerated is to be fixed: limited within specific parameters or boundaries with liberty and agency greatly reduced. Yet, recent literature has attended to the movement (or mobilities) that shape, or are shaped by modes of incarceration. Rather than simply assuming that experiences are inherently ones of immobility, such literature unhinges carceral studies from its framing within a sedentary ontology. However, the potential of mobility studies for unpacking the movements enfolded in carceral space and imprisoned life has yet to be fully exploited. When attending to mobilities, criminologists have investigated the politics of movement through a traditional horizontal frame of motion (between prison spaces, between court and prison, etc.). This paper contends that studies of mobility in criminology could be productively rethought. Drawing on movements of convicts from Britain to Australia aboard prison ships, this paper argues that straightforward, horizontal mobilities at work in regimes of control and practices of resistance marry together with vertical mobilities. Paying attention to the complex mobilities involved in carceral experience leads to a more nuanced understanding of regimes of discipline and practices of resistance that shape how incarcerated individuals move (or are unable to move) within carceral spaces, past and present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-114
Number of pages19
JournalPunishment & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016


  • carceral geography
  • convict ship
  • mobilities
  • movement
  • transportation


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