Stuck in separation: Liminality, graffiti arts and the forensic institution as a failed rite of passage

Article


McGrath, L., Mighetto, I., Liebert, R. and Wakeling, B. 2021. Stuck in separation: Liminality, graffiti arts and the forensic institution as a failed rite of passage. Sociology of Health & Illness. 43 (6), pp. 1355-1371. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13320
AuthorsMcGrath, L., Mighetto, I., Liebert, R. and Wakeling, B.
Abstract

Forensic psychiatric institutions are tasked with both containment and transformation, with securely policing the border between institution and society and readying patients for return to the community. Forensic institutions can thus be theorised as a form of ‘rite of passage’, engaged in a process of transformation which both navigates and demarcates social limits. This article contributes to literature on risk and control in clinical institutions by offering a novel theoretical synthesis of features of rites of passage and liminality, as facilitated by an art project in a forensic setting. Through the prism of the Graffiti and Wellbeing Project (GWP), an arts initiative, we explore the ways in which forensic institutions thus offer or impede opportunities for transformation. The project engendered a space for the transformation of difficult emotions and histories through the medium of art creating a liminal space of transformation within the confines of a secure institution. Drawing on Douglas, Kristeva and Bahktin, we argue that forensic institutions largely attempt to manage their own transgressive, marginal status, and the abject experiences of patients, through a recourse to order, suppression and sublimation. We argue for a wider range of responses to the transgressive and marginal experiences and behaviours prevalent in forensic settings, drawing on examples from the GWP.

JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Journal citation43 (6), pp. 1355-1371
ISSN1467-9566
Year2021
PublisherWiley for Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness
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Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13320
Publication dates
Online17 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted10 May 2021
Deposited29 Jun 2021
Copyright holder© 2021 The Authors.
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