Incarceration

Internment, like incarceration, is a bona fide keyword insofar as it is still practiced in the twenty-first-century United States. Internment entails the confinement of members of a politically suspect group without trial in an effort to isolate, contain, regulate, deprive, stigmatize, and dehumanize, sometimes reeducate, and possibly deport if not kill them. What most immediately distinguishes internment from incarceration per se is that at a technical as well as a legal level, “internment” refers specifically to government policies enacted against foreign nationals. While current research on populations of color in confinement—specifically African Americans, American Indians, Chicanos/as, and Puerto Ricans, among other groups—suggests that the terms “internment,” “incarceration” (i.e., being jailed), and “imprisonment” actually bleed into one another, there are good reasons to be cautious about using these words as synonyms. As Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (2009) notes, terminology can be used to lie or clarify. Care is needed with the terms that …

This essay may be found on page 133 of the printed volume.

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