In this paper, inmates in dormitories in a prison in New Mexico, USA, talk about their everyday lives. We are particularly interested in the ways in which they think about space. Their principal concern appears to be the definition of personal space in an environment where boundaries are weak. The paper focuses on anxieties about contamination which serve to define real and imaginary spaces within the prison. Interpersonal relationships figure more in inmates’ observations than does the disciplinary regime and the material environment of the prison. We argue that this has important implications for understanding space–power relations in institutional settings.
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