Brock University

Carceral Geography & The Prisonization of Toronto Black Youth

Employing philosopher Henri Lefebvre work on Urbanization and the Production of Space (1991) and sociologist Loic Wacquants work Deadly Symbiosis: When Ghetto and Prison Life Meet and Mesh (2001), argue that the limitation of living in concrete spaces (TCHC), forms, shapes and socializes working-class Black men with two forms of masculinities one prisonized (prison) and the other weaponized (TCHC) creating a continuity of a prisonized & hyper-weaponized militarized masculinities. My central observation is that "prison" isn't confined to the acres where correctional facilities themselves stand, rather carceral geography (and its logic) spread far beyond the confines of the prison walls.Papers should address research on racial inequality and education, demonization of Black masculinity, school (re)segregation, the impact of Bill C-10 the safe streets act, carding and racial profiling and the particular approaches on how racial injustices intersects with policing Black & racialized masculinity and other forms of marginality, like socio-economic status.

Session Organizer: Wesley Crichlow, University of Toronto Institute of Technology,


Weaponization and Prisonization of Toronto’s Black Male Youth

Wesley Crichlow, University of Toronto Institute of Technology,

Employing the scholarship of sociologists John Galtung (1969), Elijah Anderson’s (2012), and Loic Wacquant’s (2001), I argue that state structural violence and disinvestment enacted upon young Black men living in Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) prepares them for prison. This form of state structural violence forces me to ask: how do we apply meaning to the violence used by these young Black men? My central observation is that structural or state violence is learned and contributes to the reproduction of a vicious cycle of violence. Black men are victims who, on a daily basis, have their masculinity weaponized & prisonized by this violence.


Ideologizing Race, Rationalizing Racism and Racializing Space: Carceral Connections

Livy Visano, Department of Social Science, York University,

By examining  the impact of geo- political locations of racism on  a “consciousness of critique”, this paper highlights how the Black Youths are totally revealed  while the forces of coercion are concealed when veiled in the 'natural' mechanisms of society.  These youths belong to a power modality which "automizes and disindividualizes  their respective power." This paper interrogates racial injustices in terms of  insidious intersections. Persistent reminders of enslavement indicate how pervasive injustice is attributable to the institutional dimension of ideologies and the ideological dimensions of institutions especially in reference to “criminalized punishment”. The privileged white  ethos and concomitant co-constitutive horizons inherent in biopower  are conceptually articulated as imbricated  and contested spaces “of” and “for” challenging normalizing practices. In problematizing the relationship between the race, racializing and racism  within cultures of control, pathologies of privilege  and the consciousness of compliance, this hermeneutic inquiry  unmasks, unravels and grapples with normative approaches that control consciousness  (Mbembe 2003). This biopower subdivides the subjugated in relation to biological fields of skin, strength and sexuality which in turn subverts identity in order to generate relentless prisonization.  How then do sacrifice and terror reconfigure relations of resistance surface in the toxic spectre of neoliberal rationalities?


Rats, Roaches, Predators and Other Vermin: The social zoological ‘science’ of eradicating the ghetto youth swarm

Tamari Kitossa, Brock University,

Like rats, roaches and other vermin, poor and working class youth are framed as problems requiring pest control. Zoological metaphors are structuring narratives for the framing of youth in ghetto communities who experience the fullness of belonging and their humanity through informal social kin networks that, in popular discourse, are disparaged as “gangs”. This presentation seeks to unravel the ‘correctionalist’ semiology that implicitly and explicitly guides social ‘scientific’ inquiry of useless and working class youth in the internal colonial archipelagos of neoliberal society. I suggest zoological metaphors are popular conceptions generated by relations of class dominance, racial supremacy and the state in/security apparatus. Authoritarian and colonialist social ‘scientists’ are not so much generators of this discourse as they are uncritical and self-serving genuflectors to the politics of repression. I suggest the history of “youth gang” research is a well-trodden path in which ‘correctionalists’ deploy common-sense zoological vocabulary to legitimate their expertise and access to state research funds while insulating themselves through moral indifference to the repressive and genocidal practices of the capitalist, colonialist and race supremacist state.


Gangs, Guns and Plenty of Pretense: The Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy

Christopher J. Williams, To be determined,

In 2005 Toronto experienced an unusually high number of homicides involving guns, so much so that the period from June to August is popularly known as the “Summer of the Gun.” In the immediate aftermath of a high-profile boxing day shooting death that occurred during the same year, politicians and police officials formulated a “crime control” strategy which entailed specific funding for specialized police units ostensibly dedicated to the task of enhancing community safety by removing guns and gang members from the streets. From 2006 to the present, the Toronto Anti-Violence Initiative Strategy (TAVIS) has been praised for reducing violence in numerous neighbourhoods and building productive cooperative relationships with residents of marginalized communities. Upon closer examination, however, there is an abundance of evidence in support of a dramatically different perspective, one which sees TAVIS as serving (1) the practical function of enforcing race-specific social control via the grossly disproportionate targeting of black people and (2) the ideological function of buttressing the erroneous notion that crime control is the primary function of the police. Elucidating the validity of this critical perspective is the aim of this paper.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie