Motherhood and food in prison. Presentation at the Food in Prison Conference, Brussels, 21 and 22 September 2018

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished abstract


Since women experience imprisonment and the pains related to it in a gendered way (see a.o. Walker & Worrall, 2006; Crewe, Hully & Wright, 2017), and since they tend to attach gendered meanings to food (Berry & Eigenberg; 2003), this research focusses on the meanings female prisoners who live with and without their children attach to food in prison. Most of the gendered pains are related to the loss of contact with their children, but what about women who stay together with their children in prison? (How) can these mothers still fulfill their role as food supplier and primary caregiver to their children? In order to answer these questions and to gain an understanding of their experience of food and daily prison life in general we conducted a small scale qualitative empirical research in two Belgian prisons, that is a prison with an open regime (with long-term prisoners who live separately from their children), and a prison with a mother- child section and a closed regime, known for its disciplinary regime. We carried out participant observations and 24 semi- structured interviews. Interestingly, most of the women in the open regime prison had voluntarily been transferred from the prison with the closed regime, which made it possible to compare the experiences in both prisons. The results of the study suggest that food seems to be an extra gendered pain of imprisonment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 21 Sep 2018
EventFood in Prison. : International and multidisciplinary perspectives. - Mezzanine Bozar Gallery Ravenstein, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 21 Sep 201822 Sep 2018


ConferenceFood in Prison.
Internet address


  • prison food
  • Female prisoners

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