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“A perfect hell of misery”: real and imagined prison lives in an “American Siberia”

MILLER, VIVIEN

Authors

VIVIEN MILLER VIVIEN.MILLER@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Professor of American History



Abstract

This chapter provides a brief overview of George Kennan's critique of prison conditions in late nineteenth-century Siberia, examines the nascent leasing system in Florida in the 1870s and 1880s described by Powell, of vermin-infested convicts in communal barracks, clad in distinct uniforms and leg irons, and guarded by armed 'Cracker' or rural poor white guards, and considers the rhetorical linking of the two, and the ways in which borrowed ideas, images and forms framed real and imagined penal experiences. Kennan's observations on the Siberian penal system were based on firsthand research carried out over a sixteen-month period in 1885 and 1886 with Boston artist George A. Frost. Kennan countered the views of his critics that US prisons were as forbidding as those he had encountered in Siberia by declaring that 'when an American says that are as bad as the Tiumen forwarding prison, he does not know, or does not appreciate, the state of affairs in the latter'.

Citation

MILLER, V. (2015). “A perfect hell of misery”: real and imagined prison lives in an “American Siberia”. In Transnational penal cultures: new perspectives on discipline, punishment and desistance. Abingdon: Routledge

Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2014
Publication Date Dec 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 26, 2021
Publisher Routledge
Book Title Transnational penal cultures: new perspectives on discipline, punishment and desistance
Chapter Number 9
ISBN 9781138288423
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1340546
Publisher URL https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/perfect-hell-misery-vivien-miller/e/10.4324/9781315815312-10?context=ubx&refId=d9d40ea3-9d87-4c6c-9516-e5643a43a63c
Related Public URLs https://www.routledge.com/Transnational-Penal-Cultures-New-perspectives-on-discipline-punishment/Miller-Campbell/p/book/9781138288423