Book Talk: In This Place Called Prison: Women’s Religious Life in the Shadow of Punishment
In This Place Called Prison offers an account of religious life within an institution designed to punish. I conducted a year of ethnographic fieldwork inside a U.S. state women’s prison, talking with hundreds of incarcerated women, staff, and volunteers. Through their stories, I document how women draw on religion to navigate lived experiences of carceral control. Examining how religion collides and colludes with the state in an enduring tension between freedom and constraint, this book speaks to the quest for dignity and light against the backdrop of mass incarceration, state surveillance, and American inequality.
Rachel Ellis is an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. Using qualitative methods–especially ethnographic observation and interviews–her research focuses on women’s experiences of punishment in the U.S., with particular attention to race/class/gender, sexuality, and religion. Her current project, supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, is a study of women’s experiences on probation. Rachel received her BA in Sociology from Georgetown University in 2010 and her PhD in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017.