Western Cape prison gangs during and after apartheid

Have you ever seen a more appealing table of contents?:


Chapter 1: Nongoloza and Kilikijan

Chapter 2: The functions of violence I–Making men (and not children)

Chapter 3: The functions of violence II–Making men (and not women)

Chapter 4: Prison on the streets, the streets in prison

Chapter 5: Warders and gangs

It starts off a little slow and cliched, but picks up.  Excerpt:

Once the drinking rituals have been completed and Kilikijan has discovered that his bandit brother drinks poison, Po instructs the two men to take the hide, drape it over the rock on which the band's diary is inscribed, and press it against the rock, until the diaries are imprinted on the animal's skin. The words of the diary, now duplicated–one on the rock, the other on the hide–are to become the law of the gang. Whenever there is a dispute about what bandits ought to do, Po says, consult the hide or the rock, because they are a record of how things were done at the beginning, and how things ought to be done in the future. Nongoloza rolls up the hide and takes it with him. Kilikijan is left with the rock.

That story is part of the opening myth of the piece.  Read the whole thing, especially if you're into "strange and compelling, while laden with Erving Goffmanesque social science."  It's ideal for Instapaper.  Suddenly there comes:

The notion that order in the prisons was maintained by a delicate system of unwritten rules is one that begs for a control experiment. What happens when one side breaks the rules, when either ndotas or warders threaten to kill one another? Interestingly enough, there was a kind of control experiment in the 1980s: the medium-security, criminal prison on Robben Island.

The original pointer comes from Bamber.


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