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Since young offenders share very few activities such as educational or training workshops, relationships and hierarchies are formed through speech (calls, shouts, insults, and discussions “just to talk”), brawls and fights. However, as we demonstrate in this paper based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork in Fleury-Mérogis Young Offenders Detention Centre, food also plays a major role in relationships through the exchange of edible goods and their display in cells as well as during mealtimes when prisoners have the opportunity to declare their tastes and proclaim who they are. Eating practices are used to define oneself and set oneself apart, enabling these boys to construct identities for themselves.


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