Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology (MA)

Degree Level





Ram Natarajan

Committee Member

Kirsten C. Erickson

Second Committee Member

Ted R. Swedenburg


criminal, family, FOILs, incarceration, isolation, prison, social death


Incarceration, especially in the United States, is deeply related to issues of racism, poverty, and citizenship. These particular experiences are the result of a history of biopolitical control affecting Black and brown communities and have a quintessential origin in enslavement. Those who are incarcerated are isolated, dishonored, and powerless as a result of the criminalization of race and poverty. These observations led to questions surrounding the particular impact families may have on the experiences of those who are incarcerated. Families of Incarcerated Loved ones, or FOILs, mediate incarceration through intentional socialization which has the potential to counteract the realities of social death. Through virtual fieldwork and community engagement, it was found that FOILs have the potential to counteract social isolation and alienation. Their ability to fully participate is impacted, however, by their own financial circumstances and the residual effects of carceral adjacency. FOILs, then, must work first to ensure their own socialization, honor, and power prior to committing significant portions of their time and energy to resisting their loved one’s social isolation.