01 202 496

Michael Welch, Ph.D.

Criminal Justice

Office: Lucy Stone Hall A-357, Livingston Campus
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 4.44pm to 5.44pm



This course takes a critical approach toward understanding Political Imprisonment as a significant form of confinement. Lectures and slideshows benefit from fieldwork in Northern Ireland, South Africa, South Korea, and the Southern Cone of Latin America. That research provides the foundation for the required book, The Bastille Effect. As conceptualized throughout this richly illustrated book, The Bastille Effect represents the unique ways that former prisons and detention centers are transformed, both physically and culturally. In their afterlives, these sites deliver critiques of political imprisonment and the sustained efforts to hold perpetrators accountable for state violence. However, for that narrative to surface, the sites are cleansed of their profane past, even enlisting clergy to perform purifying rituals that grant them a new place identity as a memorial. For example, at Villa Grimaldi, a former detention and torture center in Santiago, Chile, activists condemn the brutal Pinochet dictatorship by honoring the memory of victims, allowing the space to emerge as a park for peace. Throughout the Southern Cone of Latin America, and elsewhere around the globe, carceral sites have been dramatically repurposed into places of enlightenment that offer inspiring allegories of human rights. Interpreting the complexities of those common threads, this course weaves together a broad range of cultural, interdisciplinary, and critical thought to offer new insights into the study of political imprisonment, collective memory, and post-conflict societies.


Welch, Michael (2022) The Bastille Effect: Transforming Sites of Political Imprisonment. University of California Press.

A free Ebook is accessed at the following link:






Two Exams: 100 points each
Final Project: 100 points each

Total Semester Points: 300


Week 1: Cultural Afterlives: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 1

Watch movie: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Week 2: States of Confinement: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 2

Watch Film: Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2350432/

Week 3: Sites of Trouble: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 3

Week 4: Sites of Condor: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 4 / Review

Week 5: Review / Exam 1 (Thursday 17 February)

Week 6: Economic Forces: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 5

Week 7: Catholic Nuances: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 6

Week 8: Architectural Designs: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 7


Week 10: Censor & Propaganda: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 8 / Review

Week 11: Review / Exam 2 (Thursday 31 March)

Week 12: Torture & Torment: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 9

Week 13: Exterminate & Denial: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 10

Consecrate & Desecrate: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 11

Week 14: Places of Resistance: read The Bastille Effect Chapter 12\

Angela Davis Exhibit at Zimmerli Art Museum (Rutgers)


Week 15: Wrap-Up / Final Project TBA Due (28 April Thursday)

There are NO extra-credit assignments.

Final Grades:

90 - 100% A
87 - 89% B+
80 - 86% B
77 - 79% C+
70 - 76% C
60 - 69% D
00 - 59% F

ABSENTEE POLICY (for all courses taught by Professor Welch): A total of six absences (any combination of excused and unexcused) results in a FULL GRADE reduction (e.g., C falls to D).

MISSING CLASS? In the very unlikely event that you miss class. Do NOT email Professor Welch. Instead, have a classmate take notes for you - cheers!

TRIGGER ALERT: All courses taught by Professor Welch have a MAXIMUM trigger alert (e.g., graphic analysis of torture, especially at the hands of government operatives).

Nota Bene: Photographing, Video, or Tape recording are strictly prohibited, as well as note taking for commercial purposes.


Students often enroll in a class without the benefit of knowing much about the course, the professor, and what is expected of them. In deciding whether this course suits your personal needs, interests, and lifestyle, the following checklist may be of assistance. Should you have difficulty with any of these items, this course is probably not suited for you.

  1. Attendance and punctuality
  2. Rigorous reading assignments and challenging exams
  3. Being aware of current events and the world around you
  4. Tolerance for the ideas and opinions of others
  5. Remaining attentive and riveted to each lecture
  6. Abstract thinking and critical thought
  7. True and amazing stories