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Discussion: “Carceral Imaginaries: A Conversation about Poetry, Literature and Media Behind Bars,” with Behrooz Boochani, Omid Tofighian, and Fatemah Shams

March 3, 2021 | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Focusing broadly on the real and imaginary landscapes of the carceral, this conversation between poets, writers, translators and film scholars will address the tropes of everyday life, the body, and the natural environment in the context of contemporary imprisonment and detention. Mediated through analog and digital technologies, prisons and detention centers, these “netherworld” and diaspora of the disconnected and dislocated emerge in word, sound and image as spaces of imaginative dreaming and connection. In the face of practices of containment, surveillance and isolation, captives conjure counter-carceral maps that germinate nature, unbounded landscapes, and homeland. The Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, who was held in Australian-run detention centers in Papua New Guinea from 2013-2019; his translator and collaborator, Omid Tofighian; and the poet and literary scholar Shahrzad Fatemeh Shams explore how the tropes of the carceral are spun into spatial imaginaries.


Moderated by Karly Alderfer and Negar Mottahedeh (Program in Literature, Duke University), with an additional screening and discussion of selected gallery films by Mona Hatoum.


Please register in advance. For more information: contact and


The Carceral Studies Working Group is supported by the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University.


Duke University


March 3, 2021
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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