Autonomy and Surveillance

The slaves were allowed to leave the master’s property with a pass, and any white person could ask to see the pass. The plantations were not inclosed by razor-wire fences or high walls; they weren’t prisons. If the slave owners had made their properties like prisons, they would have placed a much greater burden on themselves. But by giving slaves a pass and giving any white person the right to ask to see the pass, the slave owners delegated power to those whites. Surveillance was thus extended throughout the exterior of the slave owner’s property, even as far as the northern states.

Punishment as two-sided form

“The penalty transforms, modifies, establishes signs, arranges obstacles. What use would it be if it had to be permanent? A penalty that had no end would be contradictory: all the constraints that is imposes on the convict and of which, having become virtuous once more, he would never be able to take advantage, would be little better than torture; and the effort made to reform him would be so much trouble and expense lost by society.”–Foucault

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