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Other neoliberal penalities: Marching Powder and prison tourism in La Paz

Whitfield, Joey 2016. Other neoliberal penalities: Marching Powder and prison tourism in La Paz. Theoretical Criminology 20 (3) , pp. 358-375. 10.1177/1362480615618443

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For Loïc Wacquant ‘neoliberal penality’ is epitomized by the ‘penal state’ in the USA. As a decentring of this assumption, this article examines the 2003 ‘cult’ memoir Marching Powder, Rusty Young and Thomas Mcfadden’s account of the five years that Mcfadden, a British cocaine smuggler, spent in San Pedro prison La Paz in the late 1990s, where he became famous for organizing ‘prison tours’ for foreign backpackers. Marching Powder offers a vision of the extreme end of neoliberal penal logic whereby Bolivia displaces the USA as the site of a possible neoliberal ‘extreme’ as San Pedro becomes a synecdoche for an alternative neoliberal penal order. Drawing on debates from critical criminology and tourism studies, I suggest that as the correlate of the prison tours which it continues to promote, Marching Powder feeds the touristic desire for the spectacle of punishment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 1362-4806
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2020 15:15

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