Category Archives: Latest News

The Politics of Immigration Detention Seminar, 1st July 2013

On Monday, 1 July 2013, an interesting and thought-provoking seminar, ‘The Politics of Detention’, was held at the National Centre for Early Music in York, UK. Organised by Dr Alex Hall of the University of York, the seminar was well attended by academics, students, practitioners, artists, and activists from the UK as well as countries such as France, Canada, and Australia.

National Centre York

National Centre for Early Music, York
(Source: S. Turnbull)

The event is the second seminar in a larger Economic and Social Research Council funded seminar series entitled ‘Exploring Everyday Practice and Resistance in Immigration Detention’. Some of the aims of the series are to bring together academics, practitioners, and those who have experienced detention to share knowledge and expertise, network, and discuss a range of theoretical and methodological tools to interrogate both the practice and implications of immigration detention.

The Politics of Detention seminar sought to consider some of the following questions:

  • What kinds of subjects are produced by detention?
  • How do detention practices differentially value people and lives?
  • What kinds of authority, knowledge, and expertise shape detention?
  • Through what devices does detention constrain dissent and protestation, and how are these devices experienced?
  • What challenges face those who wish to open spaces for the political contestation of detention?
  • To what extent does contemporary detention blur the lines between protection, prevention, and punishment?

The presentations by each of the eight speakers touched upon these and other questions as a means to reflect on the politics of detention.

In the first session of the day, Frances Webber of the Institute for Race Relations (London, UK) provided some context to detention practices in the UK and the political environments that enable the detention of foreign national offenders after the completion of their sentences. Speaking to the Australian context, Caroline Fleay of Curtin University (Perth, Australia) argued that the practice of mandatory immigration detention has been normalised in the country, yet there is a lack of an independent monitoring system to ensure detainees’ rights are properly observed.

In the second session, Chowra Makaremi of L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris, France) provided a conceptually rich discussion of the fluidity and flexibility of borders at French airports to be drawn and redrawn around irregular migrants as a means to keep them ‘outside’ of France and within extraterritorial spaces of detention. Vicki Squire of the University of Warwick (Warwick, UK) discussed the invisibility of immigration detention in the United States, arguing that detention is a hidden practice and that forms of protest can make detention visible. Jerome Phelps of Detention Action (London, UK) questioned the political context that both enables and maintains immigration detention and highlighted the need to break down barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’ in how the issue of irregular migration is handled.

In the third session of the day, Anna Pratt of York University (Toronto, Canada) spoke about the Canadian context and the interplay between crime, national security, and immigration detention to produce certain individuals as detainable and deportable.

In the final session, Melanie Friend of the University of Sussex (Brighton, UK) presented from her highly engaging work Border Country, which included photographic images and audio clips from her research in immigration removal centres in the UK. The final speaker of the day, Don Flynn of the Migrants’ Rights Network (London, UK), summarised some of the dilemmas, tensions, and conflicts associated to the issue of immigration detention and the challenge of changing the current politics and practices.

The presentations and discussions throughout the day highlighted both differences and similarities of immigration detention practices among different jurisdictions, as well as the importance of on-going dialogue among academics and practitioners to share expertise and knowledge.

More information about the seminar series can be found here.


Carceral Spaces – new book

We’re very pleased to announce that Dominique Moran, Nick Gill and Deirdre Conlon have just published a new edited collection called Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention, with Ashgate Press. The collection brings together work by researchers working in Europe, the US, South America, and Russia whose work is about prisons and/or migrant detention as well as the disturbing and ever increasing overlaps between these systems. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to read or find out more.


Audio files of 1st February immigration detention seminar presentations

We are pleased to announce that audio files are now available for most of the presentations given on 1st February at the Supporting Immigration Detainees seminar. We hope that this will be a useful resource both for attendees and for those who were unable to be present on the day but would like more details of the discussions.

Recordings are available to download of the talks given by Ali McGinley from AVID, Adeline Trude of BID, Jerome Phelps of Detention Action, John Speyer of Music in Detention and Gill Baden of the Bail Observation Project. 

You can also listen to Ruhul, co-founder of the newsletter ‘Speak Out!’, who spoke of his first-hand experience in immigration detention, and Dr Lauren Martin of University of Oulu in Finland, who presented her experiences working with NGOs supporting immigration detainees in the USA.

All the recordings are available here:  

The next seminar in the immigration detention series will be held in York in July on the topic of politics and detention, organised by Dr Alex Hall (  We hope to see you there!

Melanie Griffiths and Nick Gill

Successful immigration detention seminar held on 1st February 2013

Last Friday around 60 academics, NGO practitioners and ex-detainees gathered in London to kick start a series of inter-disciplinary immigration detention seminars that will be held in 2013 and 2014. The focus of this seminar was ‘supporting detainees’ and we heard from a number of organisations that support immigration detainees in various ways. We also heard from individuals with first-hand experience of being held in Immigration Removal Centres and who could provide insights into what helped them cope with the experience.

The first speaker was Ali McGinley (audio here), Director of AVID (the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees: Ali spoke of the different visitor groups connected to AVID and of the impact of visit programmes for detainees and volunteers alike. Next up was Adeline Trude (audio here), Research and Policy Director at BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees: Adeline told attendees about the work of BID, from casework to research projects, monitoring and providing information for detainees wishing to apply for bail.

After the break and a brief preface from Nick Gill (audio here) the morning was completed with a paper presented by Dr Lauren Martin (audio here) from the University of Oulu in Finland: Lauren described her experiences working with NGOs supporting immigration detainees in the USA and how she juggled her PhD with NGO work. Lauren identified a number of global trends relating to immigration detention, including the privatisation of such centres, the criminalisation of migrants and the externalisation of borders.

After a lunch of buzzing conversation and exchanges, we heard from five speakers with experiences of supporting immigration detainees. First up was Clare Sambrook, reporter and co-founder of End Child Detention Now ( Clare spoke of the family that first brought the detention of children to her attention and her subsequent campaigning against child detention.

Clare was followed by presentations given by Jerome Phelps (audio here), Director of Detention Action ( and ex-detainee Ruhul (audio here). Jerome discussed the visiting, support and campaign work of Detention Action (formerly known as the London Detainee Support Group). Ruhul spoke movingly about his experiences of several years in detention and the newsletter ‘Speak Out!’ that he has set up for other detainees, with support from Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group ( The first edition is available here:

Next up was John Speyer (audio here), Director of the organisation Music in Detention ( John spoke passionately about the role of music in not only helping people cope with detention but in building links between detainees and others in the community. John also discussed the potential benefits of closer collaboration between academics and NGO practitioners.

The presentations were rounded off by a fascinating paper given by Gill Baden (audio here), of the Campaign to Close Campsfield ( and the Bail Observation Project. Gill described the first report of the Bail Observation Project, published in 2011 and which is available here: The project had shown significant discrepancies between bail results according to the tribunal and judge involved in the hearings. A follow-up report is due to be published in April 2013, which will consider the impact of the newly introduced bail guidelines for Immigration Judges.

The day was completed with open floor discussion about the potential benefits of closer cooperation between academics and practitioners as well as specific issues raised by the day’s talks. There was a general sense that the coming together of activists, campaigners, ex-detainees and academics was an exciting and stimulating development. Keep an eye on the series’ website for audio recordings of the talks, which will be available soon:

The next seminar in the immigration detention series is being organised by Dr Alex Hall ( It will held be in July 2013 in York and will consider the relationship between politics and detention. For more details of this and the other seminars, check out the website:

Thanks to all that presented and attended for contributing to the day! Looking forward to the next seminar in July.

Melanie Griffiths and Nick Gill

Supporting detainees seminar

The asylum-network is involved in organising the first of a series of seminars on the theme of immigration detention. By bringing together a range of established academics, early-career academics, postgraduates, practitioners, artists, activists and former detainees this seminar series will investigate the ways in which the UK experience of detention reflects and re-produces the contradictory logics inherent in modern global detention practices.

Through five one-day workshop events the seminar series will span the academic disciplines of criminology, geography, politics and sociology in order to examine immigration detention, everyday experiences of detention and the politics of, and resistance to, detention practices. The seminars will also reflect upon the ethical/methodological challenges that the study of detention produces.

The first workshop, on the topic of supporting detainees, will be held this Friday (1st Feb) in London. We have an exciting list of speakers ready and are expecting a stimulating and rewarding day of discussion! Recordings of some of the presentations will be available shortly.

To find out more about the seminar series and sign up for future events (to be held in York, Birmingham, Oxford and Lancaster), visit:

**Asylum Network – Report of Findings Released**

We are pleased to launch our report, entitled ‘Networks of Asylum Support in the UK and USA: A Handbook of Ideas, Strategies and Best Practice for Asylum Support Groups in a Challenging Social and Economic Climate’, which represents the findings of an eighteen month research project that examines the challenges faced by asylum support groups in the United States and the United Kingdom, and different ways of responding to those challenges. The research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK. The research has been carried out by four people: Drs Nick Gill, Deirdre Conlon, Ceri Oeppen and Imogen Tyler.

The purpose of this report is to provide information to the asylum support sector by disseminating our findings about the common challenges faced by those working with this vulnerable population in two different national settings, and the strategies being engaged by asylum support organisations to confront these common challenges. In carrying out this work the research team has been inspired and humbled by the dedication, positive outlook and imaginative determination of the people who work in this sector. We would like to express our thanks to everyone who has participated in the project. Your generosity at a time of acute instability and financial strain is very much appreciated. It is our hope that each asylum support organisation that comes into contact with this report will come away with at least one good idea. If this happens then we have achieved our primary objective.

You can download a PDF of the report here.

We’d greatly appreciate your feedback about the report, and ask that you complete a very short four-question survey here.

Or, you can contact us at: with comments.

Nick Gill, Deirdre Conlon, Ceri Oeppen and Imogen Tyler

GRAMNet: Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network

GRAMNet: Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network

Call for papers
GRAMNet Postgraduate Colloquium:
“Migration in times of economic crises”
11th June 2012, University of Glasgow

“Migration in times of economic crises” is a one day interdisciplinary postgraduate colloquium which aims to reflect on the challenges during times of economic crisis facing those who take part in any form of transnational migration. 

Increasingly, in the present economic climate, local and national austerity measures are affecting migration on a transnational scale. As FRONTEX operations expand beyond European Union territory and severe cuts are imposed in countries on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece and Italy, the everyday reality of “Fortress Europe” is changing and migration within the continent has resurfaced as a key issue. 
Reports of a “brain drain” of highly skilled migrants from countries most affected by financial crisis to Member States with stronger or rising economies points to internal European migration underpinned by welfare cuts and enduring unemployment. At the same time, the promotion of “multiculturalism” and high-skilled migration by some governments does not prevent the adoption of an anti-migrant stance in public, political and media discourses in migrant-receiving countries. 
These changing socio-economic and political contexts – the increasingly problematic representation of migrants in political, media and academic discourses – call for critical reflection on the role of researchers in resisting instead of reinforcing such processes.

We therefore welcome, and encourage, papers as well as posters from all disciplines that contribute to and engage with these debates at a local, national, European and international level. Although the theme of the conference relates to the contemporary economic situation, historical perspectives are also welcome.
Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

* Impact of Cuts and Austerity Measures         * Access to Justice 
* Economisation of Migration                    * ‘Fortress Europe’ and Securitisation of Migration
* Racism and Islamophobia                       * Discourses of Migration
* Immigration Policy and Regulation             * Migration, Neoliberalism and Welfare
* Internal European Migration                   * Detention, Dispersal and Deportation          
* ‘Multiculturalism’, Nationalism and Citizenship        * Forced Migration, Refugees and Asylum

Please send abstracts (max. 350 words including title and references) prepared for blind review to by 23rd March 2012. It is intended that a selection of papers from the colloquium proceedings will be published in the University’s Postgraduate online journal eSharp.