Prisons Before Modernity: Incarceration in the Medieval Indo-Mediterranean
Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 24.2 (2012): 179-197.
19 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 22, 2012
Over the course of the sixth/twelfth century, a new literary genre entered the Eastern Islamic world: the Persian prison poem (habsiyyat). Far from being an isolated event, the prison poem was forged when punishment came to be reconfigured as incarceration. This development was reflected in literary texts extending across South Asia, Azerbaijan, and continental Europe. Locating the institution of the prison outside European modernity, this study traces the material grounds for this new literary form and situates this archive globally. Concomitantly with studying the medieval literature of incarceration, it evaluates the Indo-Mediterranean as a discursive rubric for the study of pre-modern literary cultures.
Keywords: Prisons, captivity, Persian literature, Arabic literature, prison poetry, Foucault
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