From Guantanamo Bay to Pelican Bay: Hunger Striking and the Biopolitical Geographies of Resistance
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In this work I illustrate the ways in which power structures function in operationalizing geographies of resistance in two particular carceral spaces. Specifically I examine the social organization and internal power relations present within hunger striking prison populations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California. I show that the Guantanamo hunger strikes are minimally organized with non-binding power structures, while the Pelican Bay hunger strikes have had greater levels of commitment, and have been more sophisticated in organization. I consider the relationships that exist between power, identity and violence within these hunger strike resistance movements. I contextualize these phenomena within a biopolitical framework that transgresses more traditional definitions of biopolitics; as opposed to conceptualizing biopolitics as a technology of power manifested by the state, I argue that oppressed populations, such as prisoners, construct their own power by regulating their own ‘vital biological processes’.