Feelings of Imprisonment: Experiences from the prison workhouse at Christianshavn, 1769-1800

Publikation: AfhandlingPh.d.-afhandling


This dissertation examines the experiences of imprisonment in the prison workhouse at Christianshavn in the last three decades of the eighteenth century. By examining the plurality of experiences in the prison workhouse, the dissertation argues that inmate agency shaped the development of the prison workhouse.
The empirical basis of the dissertation is letter books written by the prison administration between 1769 and 1800. The letters vary in content and genre: Some concern administrative matters such as accounts of the prison finances, purchases of material, and maintenance of the prison buildings. Others concern the daily management of the inmates, information of the inmates’ practices and behaviour, as well as any conflicts that arose.
The inmates’ experiences are analysed from an emotional and sensory practice-oriented perspective. The first chapters explore the context for the inmates’ experiences, focusing on the physical conditions of the prison, the emotional constraints of coercive measures, and the prison’s connection to eighteenth-century society. The last chapters examine different categories of practices, such as petitioning for release, prison break, negotiations with the prison administration for better positions, and acts of violence, and how they influenced the prison system.
Focusing on the last three decades of the eighteenth century, the prison workhouse at Christianshavn transformed from an institution suspended between the system of poor relief and the penal system to an institution that seemed more like a prison and less like a poor house. Although influenced by external forces, such as legislative changes, the prison’s development was tied to the inmates’ experiences. How and to what extent the prison changed was set in motion by the actions and practices of the inmates.
Bevilgende institution
  • Aalborg Universitet
  • Heinsen, Johan Lund, Hovedvejleder, Ekstern person
  • Kallestrup, Louise Nyholm, Bivejleder
Dato for forsvar30. jun. 2022
ISBN'er, elektronisk978-87-7573-921-9
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2022
Udgivet eksterntJa


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