My stay in Oñati was used to work on a paper on solitary confinement in the Norwegian Correctional Services (NCS), where I have done ethnographic fieldwork in high security prisons and interviews of staff in different institutional levels, as well as prisoners, stake holders etc. Prison ethnographies on solitary confinement are rare, and the design is explorative. Thus an important part of my stay was to look for relevant literature for my paper. Looking particularly through the shelves with prison literature in the library, I realized that a particular body of literature could be used, namely about the use of law, management and accountability in prisons. Except from access to literature, it was of utter importance how the institute facilitate research, which for me implied quiet and inspiring days for thinking and writing without interruption.
I guess this Facebook post sums up my stay: Last week I had the pleasure to experience the unbelievable hospitality of the International Institute for Sociology of Law at the University of Oñati (IISL), and I want every scholar and student from relevant fields to know about the possibilities of being a visiting scholar and use their facilities: their library and documentation center, the close by Hall of residence (the Palacio Antia, a 18th century building, last picture) offering space to live and work, and the magic town of Oñati. In IISL’s specialized library in socio-legal studies, located in a Spanish Renaissance building completed in 1543 as a university law school, I did not only find kind and helpful staff. I also found the exact body of literature I need (finally, what a joy! But a bit scary to climb to the upper shelves) and a work place for quiet concentration, yet still social times with everyday jokes and conversations about big and small themes with new friends. In breaks and evenings the town offers a river, parks and squares to wander around, and plenty of places to eat and drink, were I have worked by day and even danced by night. I will do my best to come back, as this was such a fruitful and inspiring stay for me. With deep and sincere gratitudes, Marte