Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Gender and Women's Studies

Second Department

German Studies

Reader 1

Susan Castagnetto

Reader 2

Christine Guzaitis

Reader 3

Friederike von Schwerin-High

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Rights Information

© 2012 Andrea Moody Kozak


This thesis explores how the material reality of Germany's women's prisons has been largely determined by their ideological foundations, and by the historical developments that have produced these ideologies. The German women's prison system is complex and imperfect, yet in many ways very progressive. It is the result of the last sixty years of tumultuous German history, and has been uniquely shaped by the capitalist and communist histories of the once-divided state. In its current state, it seems to have incorporated elements of a supposedly “rational” or individualistic conception of humanity as well as one that is relational and interdependent, thus promoting independence while still fostering and supporting care-based familial and social support systems. In this way, it reflects the remarkable development of Germany since the end of the horrific Second World War, providing a window into ideologies of gender, crime, and incarceration as they evolved and eventually merged. Germany serves as an excellent case study of the ways in which prisons are a product of their countries' histories, and is a model for understanding how prisons around the world must be analyzed in the context of their nations' past. Any attempt to compare prison systems across international borders must be centered around the unique contextual development of each country and its prisons.