I’m hoping to organize a panel for next year’s AHA (2019) that examines the development of carceral spaces in nineteenth century America. I am open to a range of paper topics within the framework of carceral history. Any geographic region or subject matter within a broad conception of carceral history is applicable. Topics might include specific carceral spaces, prisoners of war, immigration enforcement, convict labor or fugitive slave laws.

My own work focuses on the growth of urban carceral spaces as part of a larger political debate over the shape and meaning of freedom in nineteenth century America. I am interested in questions about the relationship between incarceration and urban politics in the mid-nineteenth century. Particularly, what does it mean to think of inmates as political actors? What if we start from the premise that they were not merely struggling for survival within a larger political game? Rather, they played an active part in shaping the political debates of their time. My own paper will focus on the political debates surrounding the development of carceral institutions on Blackwell’s Island in New York City and the opposition of white, workingmen to the expanding number of institutions on the island.


Mike Haggerty,
PhD. Candidate-UC Davis History Dept.

mghaggerty at ucdavis.edu