Inmate Coping Strategies in Fremantle Prison, Western Australia

21st April 2013

Erin Mein

BA (Hons), School of Humanities, University of Western Australia, November 2012

This thesis investigates inmate coping strategies in Fremantle Prison, Western Australia, via an examination of the archaeological evidence excavated from two cells in the Main Cell Block. It is argued that previous studies of total institutions which have aimed to uncover the lived experiences of inmates, focused too heavily on finding evidence of inmate resistance, to the point that resistance has become synonymous with agency. The theoretical framework set out in this study moves away from dichotomous concepts of resistance versus domination in total institutions and instead uses an interpretive framework based on psychological concepts of coping strategies to examine the archaeological record of prison cells. Historical documents and psychological research are used to model the types of problems faced by inmates and the strategies they employ to cope with prison life. This study also aimed to test the potential of using ‘between-floor’ archaeological deposits, which are suspended between floors and ceilings in the upper storeys of standing structures, in future archaeological research. A comparison between site formation processes of a subterranean underfloor deposit versus a between-floor deposit is undertaken in order to understand the future research potential and limitations of the latter.

Erin Mein
Inmate coping strategies in Fremantle Prison, Western Australia
June 2013
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Thesis Abstracts
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