Lecture Description

This talk highlights the issues of dehumanization and objectification during a pivotal moment in the emergence of our modern world. From the vantage point of the twenty-first century, prisoner of war camps may appear to be an innate feature of war. Some system of incarceration for enemy captives has been a practical necessity in most military endeavors. Yet, by assuming that prisoner of war camps are a fact of war, we too easily overlook the innovation that the Civil War camps represented. Prison pens, as they were initially referred to then, were not the product of a gradual evolution. The Civil War prison camps were, until the prison and internment camps of World War Two, the largest experiment in creating closed, total institutions in American history. The prison pens became unprecedented laboratories for the calibrated treatment of prisoners.


1800-1865 Civil War and Reconstruction

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