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Tanya E. Erzen
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1132)
Faith-Based Prisons and the Politics of Transformation

The project is an ethnographic and historical examination of how faith-based prisons have reframed imprisonment as an issue of individual religious transformation and challenged conceptions of the secular state. The focus is on the religious practices, affiliations and subjectivities among incarcerated women and men, volunteers, prison officials and correctional officers. The project situates their narratives within the history of the religious origins of the prison, and the policies of the federal office of faith based initiatives. The faith-based prisons view conversion and redemption as the means toward rehabilitation, and a central issue of the project is how incarcerated men and women engage in self-making in the restrictive spaces of the prison. The project explores how individuals articulate a theology of crime and punishment, how they utilize the language of values and faith, while illustrating how state secularism promotes religious practice in prison.

Project fields:
Religion, General

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2011 – 6/30/2012