We have a choice
Human geographer Dr Jennifer Turner joined the University of Oldenburg in 2020. She is interested in cultural as well as political geography and especially explores their intersections. Her research focuses on the contemporary penal system and its integration into society. Before coming to Oldenburg, Turner worked at the University of Liverpool (UK).
We have a choice
Were Covid-19-related lockdowns like prison? Human geographer Jennifer Turner has a clear opinion on this. In her research, she studies carceral spaces.
"During the last months, people often described their experiences during COVID-19 lockdowns as ‘like being in prison’. For me, this comparison is problematic. As a human geographer, I am interested in the effect that space has on us as individuals and as a society (and how we also (re)construct the spaces around us). I am particularly interested in closed spaces. I have been to many prisons all over Europe for this purpose. I can therefore say with certainty: the lockdown did not truly make prisoners of us.
For the most part, the decision to stay at home was still entirely ours. There was no one who came and locked the doors to our homes. Although governments legislated to restrict our movements, we could still go outside even if we risked a fine. . It is also unlikely that we were confined within sparse and unfamiliar rooms, like cells. Most of us stayed in our homes, where we could use streaming platforms or delivery services, and we could still meet our friends – even if only digitally. In general, none of this is possible in a prison. Incarcerated persons do not have such choices or control over their own lives. The common purpose of all prison systems in the world is the loss of this freedom: the loss of choice. Did we ever lose that when we were ’locked up’ during the pandemic?"
Written up by Lara Schäfer