CFP AAG 2022: Disease, contamination, dehumanization, and immigration control 

CFP AAG 2022: Disease, contamination, dehumanization, and immigration control 

Call for papers: American Association of Geographers, Feb. 25-March 1, 2022, New York 

Session: Disease, contamination, dehumanization, and immigration control 


Nancy Hiemstra (Stony Brook University,

Deirdre Conlon (University of Leeds,  

In the contemporary era of unprecedented human mobility, migrants are often discursively cast as carriers and spreaders of disease, as ‘contaminants’ to nationalist imaginaries and as an ‘infection’ to society and social (dis)order. The productivity of metaphors in geography and across the social sciences is well-established (Cresswell 1997; Brown 2000; Ahmed 2004;). Scholars recognize the power of metaphor to shape approaches to immigrants and immigration control (e.g. Ellis and Wright 1998; Santa Ana 2002; Ahmed 2004; Chavez 2013; Gorman 2021). With the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, metaphors of illness and contagion have again been weaponized to further migrant exclusion, containment, precarity, and hostility. 

In addition to being characterized by intensified restrictions on migrant mobility, the current moment has also brought into relief other ailments of immigration enforcement systems (e.g. Longazel and Hallett 2021). For instance, the siting of immigrant detention facilities often heightens exposure to environmental toxins, and in detention gender, race, ethnicity, and health inequalities are amplified. Policies such as the Migrant Protection Protocol, a.k.a. ‘Remain in Mexico’, in the U.S. or ‘housing dispersal’ for asylum seekers in the UK effectively produce conditions that render migrants more prone to precarity and ill-health.    

This session invites contributions that consider how metaphors of disease, contamination, sickness, ill/health and dehumanizing constructions are reflected in and influence immigration control. How do discursive tools play out in policy making and in practice? What are the material effects of such discourse on the ground and in migrants’ lived experiences? How do they impact migrant spatialities? To what ends can engagement with and analyses of metaphors of disease and contamination be put to use to disrupt metanarratives that are pervasive in connection with migrants and immigration controls? 

We invite papers on the following themes in relation to human im/mobility:  

*control of migrants through metaphor 

*deployment of metaphors, explicitly or implicitly, against specific groups 

*COVID-19 pandemic 

*overlap of security and health/sickness 

*Border security and policies 

*Racial profiling 

*Gendered, sexualized, raced, classed, and ableist impacts of metaphors of ill-health  

*Environmental racism 

Papers can focus on the discussion of metaphor, or they can touch upon it obliquely. 

Please send a paper title and an abstract of 250 words max. by Fri. Oct. 1 2021. Abstracts and inquiries should be sent to Deirdre Conlon and Nancy Hiemstra At this date we are planning to be in New York for the conference but this may change due to COVID-19. If AAG permits, we will make this a hybrid (in-person/virtual) session. 


Ahmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. New York: Routledge. 

Brown, M. (2000). Closet Space: Geographies of Metaphor from the Body to the Globe. New York: Routledge. 

Cresswell, T. (1997). Weeds, Plagues, and Bodily Secretions: A Geographical Interpretation of Metaphors of Displacement. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 87(2), 330-345. Retrieved August 17, 2021, from 

Chavez, L. R. (2013). The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 

Ellis, M., & Wright, R. (1998). The Balkanization Metaphor in the Analysis of U.S. Immigration. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 88(4), 686-698.  

Gorman, C.S. (2021). Defined by the Flood: Alarmism and the Legal Thresholds of US Political Asylum. Geopolitics, 26 (1): 215-235. 

Longazel, J. and Hallet, M.C. (2021) Migration and Mortality: Social Death, Dispossession and Survival in the Americas. Philadelphia: Temple UP. 

Santa Ana, O. 2002. Brown tide rising: Metaphors of Latinos in contemporary American public discourse

CfP: Critical Geographies of Confinement

Conference of Irish Geographers (virtual) May 18-21, 2021.

Session co-organizers: Deirdre Conlon, University of Leeds

Sasha Brown, Maynooth University,

Joseph S. Robinson, Maynooth University

In February 2021, the Irish government announced plans to end the direction provision system—originally introduced in 2000—for asylum seekers by 2024. While the exact character of the ‘new’ system to respond to irregular migration remains unclear, the government’s proposals appear to echo elements of Ireland’s “breathtaking history of incarceration” (Lentin, 2016: 24), which is characterised by the confinement and repressive control of marginalised individuals in institutions including psychiatric hospitals, industrial schools, workhouses, mother and baby homes, Magdalene Laundries, and Direct Provision Centres (O’Sullivan & O’Donnell, 2012). With this, questions related to exclusion, dignity, justice, and responsibilities toward marginalised members of communities, in Ireland, as elsewhere, (re)surface yet again.  

This juncture, alongside the 2021 CIG conference theme—geographies of responsibilities—provide an opportunity to reflect on the contributions, synergies, and future directions for scholarship and activities among those whose work engages space(s) of critical migration, confinement, social control, and the carceral more broadly. This session offers a forum for so doing and is informed by the following questions: How can or should critical geography contribute to understanding confinements—historical or contemporary—in the Irish state? How have scholars, artists, activists, and organisers exposed and challenged temporal and/or spatial continuities across sites of confinement, control, or incarceration? What new insights can we generate by thinking spatially about such systems of social control? What sorts of new (or recurring) questions can critical geographers help illuminate in light of the emergence of a new phase of migrant social control? 

This themed session is envisioned as a series with invited panelists (TBC), brief presentations and open discussion among new, emerging, and established researchers. To this end, we invite expressions of interest in contributing reflections, brief accounts, and provocations in the form of 10 min. presentations from those interested in or engaged with the geographies of migrant ‘accommodation’, detention, confinement, carceral systems and social control in and beyond the Irish state. 

*Please send expressions of interest/abstracts of no more than 250 words by April 28th 2021 to Deirdre Conlon d dot conlon at leeds dot ac dot uk, corresponding session organizer. Requests for bursaries can be made via the conference website (form available here).