Please join us for a colloquium being given by John Eason, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In Our Backyard
"In Our Backyard" reframes the PIMBY question by offering new theories of prison building using data on all US census places to investigate the mechanisms causing prison building along with the multiple/conflicting ways prisons impact the political economy of locals towns, counties, and states. By expanding the scope and scale of prison building this inquiry will serve as the definitive work on one of the most pressing social problems of our times—prison proliferation— the widespread expansion of prisons. "In Our Backyard" ties the legacy of slavery and the racial violence of Jim Crow to modern political economy of underdevelopment in the rural South. While the power of past systems of racial domination and violence are salient, they cannot explain why the US tripled prison facilities. Instead I offer the rural ghetto, born out of the historical legacy of racial violence, as the modern incarnation of oppression in the rural South. “In Our Backyard" will demonstrate how the rise of the rural ghetto—poverty, residential segregation, and stigma—provide a powerful impetus for local prison building across the US.
About Professor Eason: Professor John Eason is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before entering graduate school, he was a church-based community organizer focusing on housing and criminal justice issues. He also served as a political organizer for then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama. His research interest challenges existing models and develops new theories of community, health, race, punishment, and rural/urban processes in several ways. By tracing the emergence of the rural ghetto he establishes a new conceptual model of rural neighborhoods. These relationships are explored through his book, Big House on the Prairie: Rise of the Rural Ghetto and Prison Proliferation, at the University of Chicago Press. He is also investigating health outcomes in immigrant detention centers. He uses multi-method, multi-level approaches in empirical investigations ranging from imprisonment, prisoner reentry, murder, healthcare access, and health disparities across the rural-urban continuum.
Professor Eason is a member of UB's inaugural Center for Diversity Innovation's Distinguished Visiting Scholar cohort. Read more about the entire cohort: