Prison in Iran - A Known Unknown

by Nahid Rahimipour Anaraki
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Nahid Rahimipour Anaraki Prison in Iran - A Known Unknown
Nahid Rahimipour Anaraki - Prison in Iran - A Known Unknown

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This book offers a unique look into prisons in Iran and the lives of the prisoners and their families. It provides an overview of the history of Iranian prisons, depicts the sub-culture in contemporary Iranian prisons, and highlights the forms that gender discrimination takes behind the prison walls. The book draws on the voices of 90 men and women who have been imprisoned in Iran, interviewed in 2012 and 2017 across various parts of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It presents a different approach to the one proposed by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish because the author argues that  Iran never experienced “the age of sobriety in punishment” and “a slackening of the hold on the body”. Whilst penal severity in Iran has reduced, its scope has now extended beyond prisoners to their families, regardless of their age and gender. In Iran, penalties still target the body but now also affect the bodies of the entire prisoner’s family. It is not just prisoners who suffer from the lack of food, clothes, spaces for sleeping, health services, legal services, safety, and threats of physical violence and abuse but also their families. The book highlights the costs of mothers’ incarceration for their children. It argues that as long as punishment remains the dominant discourse of the penal system, the minds and bodies of anyone related to incarcerated offenders will remain under tremendous strain. This unique book explores the nature of these systems in a deeply under-covered nation to expand understandings of prisons in the non-Western world. 


Nahid Rahimipour Anaraki

Further information

Illustrations Note:
4 SW-Abb.
“This is a powerful, gripping story of humanity, trust and distrust, power and governance in an 'unknown' place. It is both a moving and instructive account of prisons in Iran, and an uncomfortably familiar narrative of ‘the prison’ more generally: a place full of tensions and contradictions, fragile relationships, grief, solidarity, instability and violence. The author describes the painfulness of gratuitous punishment with care, compassion and bravery.” (Alison Liebling, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Cambridge, UK)
“Offering a rare look into day-to-day life in prison and a unique perspective of incarcerated mothers and children, Prison in Iran is a fascinating insight into a world that is almost entirely unknown in criminological research, even in Iran itself. Hopefully this important contribution will open doors to badly needed future research into this unexplored penal terrain.” (Shadd Maruna, Professor of Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast, UK)
“This book fills a gap in prison studies and offers a rich, thought-provoking overview of Iranian prisons both historically and contemporary. The author describes and brings the reader's attention to the impact of the penal environment not only on prisoners, but also on their families.” (Farhad Khosrokhavar, Retired Professor of Sociology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, France)

Makes a compelling and useful addition to the studies of prisons in the non-western world

Offers insights into histories of prison in Iran, governance and pathways

Draws on unique empirical data to understand prisoner experiences

Explores the differences between men and women's experiences

Media Type:
Springer International Publishing
Biography Artist:
Nahid Rahimipour Anaraki is Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. She holds an MA in Sociology from the University of Kerman, Iran and a PhD in sociology from Memorial University, and she has co-authored several articles published in Quality & Quantity journal.

"Prison in Iran. A Known Unknown is a welcome and rare attempt to study 'ordinary' prisons and prisoners in Iran. Through her investigations, observations and interviews Rahimipour Anaraki has successfully depicted the sufferings of prisoners, especially women's and children's, as a reflection of a society in which social inequalities are paramount and where prison's raison d'e tre is not to educate but to punish, not to integrate but to exclude." (Azadeh Kian, Punishment & Society, June 30, 2021)

Number of Pages:

Master Data

Product Type:
Paperback book
Release date:
November 7, 2021
Package Dimensions:
0.21 x 0.148 x 0.011 m; 0.259 kg
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