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The Wall That Divided a Prison: Liberalism and the Carceral Project in the Colony

About the Event


Feb 12, 2020, 12 – 1pm



Faculty Talk: Diana Martinez Assistant Professor, Director of Architectural Studies

This paper tells the story of an extraordinary panopticon built in the Philippines in the late 19th century. At the time the largest prison in the world, it was split by an impenetrable wall. One half held prisoners deemed to be enemies of civil society, while the other half held those deemed to be enemies of the Spanish state. In its differences from Jeremy Bentham’s classic panopticon, the prison describes the limits of Enlightenment discourse (which has never sufficiently accounted for the historicity of colonial struggle), at the same time that it suggests the potentially universal appeal of Enlightenment values.

This talk will be held in conjunction with the exhibition Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System on view 23 January–19 April 2020 at the Aidekman Arts Center, Medford.