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Cold War carceral liberalism and other counternarratives: the case of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country

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This article traces a transnational cultural genealogy of postwar and early Cold War liberalism specifically shaped by prisons. Central to this genealogy is Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, the South African novel that became a metonym for the tradition of South African political liberalism and liberal anti-apartheid fiction. The novel’s carceral aspects have never been discussed in relation to Paton’s prison reform articles from the same period, or within the framework of carceral studies. Reading the novel alongside Paton’s prison writings highlights the constitutive role of the carceral state – a regime of modern power spread across different sites – in liberal reformist agendas of the 1940s and 1950s. This case study traces Cold War carceral state building on a cultural terrain and provides opportunities to reflect on evolutions of present day “carceral solidarities” – modes of culture and politics mediated by an expanding and globalized carceral state.
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Keywords: Alan Paton; Cold War; apartheid; carceral state; carceral studies; liberalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ERC Project APARTHEID_STOPS, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Publication date: April 3, 2019

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