The Recovery Hustle: Race and Reintegration in Post-industrial America
Event type: Seminars21 August 2019 from 12.00 pm - 1.00 pm
Dr Liam Martin - Victoria University of Wellington
Drawing on ethnographic research at a halfway house for men leaving prison and jail, this paper examines the experience of three residents who accept program mandates and identify as “in-recovery” from addiction - but resist and reject the associated practices when away from official surveillance. The men use recovery less as a program of drug abstinence then a flexible resource for reintegrating to a hostile social order. Differences in practice emerge from distinct locations in a racialized structure of opportunities: white resident Paul Barry juggles conflicting demands on his time from the program and the factory where he works by defining paid work as itself a form of recovery, black resident Tim Williams looks to recovery as a mobility pathway and chance to overcome barriers to employment, and Puerto Rican resident Joe Badillo becomes a cultural broker between the neighbourhood street scene and a white program administration. At a time when prisoner reentry is increasingly governed by logics of coercive drug treatment, the paper traces the interplay of structure and agency as people navigating these systems make sense of recovery while trying to reintegrate to a post-industrial urban landscape.
Dr Liam Martin is a Lecturer in the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington. Liam’s research examines issues of imprisonment and prisoner reentry. He is writing a book about ethnography conducted while living at a halfway house in Greater Boston: Halfway Home: between Prison and Freedom in the American Carceral State (NYU Press). This reentry work is part of a research agenda examining the causes and consequences of large-scale incarceration, including interactions between prison growth and race and class inequality, global transfers of punitive crime control policy, the broad impact of prisons on families and communities, and alternative ways of addressing harm.