Call for papers: Neuchatel Graduate Conference of Migration and Mobility Studies


Panel proposal: Exploring the everyday of immigration detention: Materiality, temporality and administrative power

Neuchatel Graduate Conference of Migration and Mobility Studies University of Neuchatel


Annika Lindberg, PhD student, University of Bern

Laura Rezzonico, PhD student, NCCR-on the move, University of Neuchâtel

Immigration detention is one of the measures increasingly used by states in order to control, confine, and exclude unwanted migrants from their territories. Permitted by art. 5 of the ECHR, detention remains a legally and politically obscure institution (Costello 2015) and is carried out in various ways and in different spaces across Europe. Indeed, some states hold migrants in prisons designed for criminals, while others have developed a parallel detention system exclusively for migrants. Detention facilities and conditions also vary greatly from one country to another, and staff may consist of policemen, prison officers, or social workers. While these factors may be considered as merely logistical, they significantly shape the perceptions and experiences of detainees, staff, and other actors.

In this panel, we would like to address the materiality of immigration detention by focusing on carceral spaces (Moran et al. 2013), temporality (Turnbull 2016), everyday practices, and administrative routines. We understand the ‘everyday’ as “the supposedly mundane, banal and unremarkable activities performed and experienced on a day-to-day basis; and (…) the localised nature of these as grounded in – and affected by – specific places and spaces” (Ho and Hatfield 2011: 710). We are particularly interested in the relations and interactions between detention staff and detainees and the ways in which these are mediated, for example through indirect communication, spatial structures, and administrative practices. In this context, we would like to push further the conceptualization of processes of “moral distancing” (Gill 2016), “dehumanization” (Bhui 2013) and “administrative power” (Bosworth 2016) occurring in immigration detention. Focusing on the everyday enables us to highlight the underlying logics, experiences, and contestations of immigration detention and to relate situated practices to macro level processes of securitization, criminalization, and exclusion of migrants.

We are particularly interested in papers focusing on:

–          everyday practices and experiences of immigration detention

–          materiality and architecture of detention centres

–          experiences of temporality

–          relations and interactions between detention staff and detainees

–          administrative practices and power

–          perspectives, experiences, and tactics of different actors: detention staff, detainees, and other

If you are interested in our panel proposal, please send an abstract of approx. 200-250 words to and until Friday, 27 January 2017. If the deadline is too short for you to write an abstract, we kindly ask you to contact us anyway and send a provisional title and a rough outline of your presentation.

Feel free to contact us for further information.