Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2021 Announcement

The Carceral Geographies Working Group and Advisory Board are pleased to announce the winner of our inaugural Undergraduate Dissertation Prize:

Georgia White (University of Nottingham) for “ ‘There’s a particular thing about the pregnancy ought to be and how it is for some women’: The experience of pregnancy for refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK.” 

The selection panel was impressed with the dissertation’s nuanced methodological approach and theoretical sophistication, and especially with the originality of the topic and analysis. Not only did White complete an impressive dissertation during a difficult time, but they developed a careful, original approach to the carceral geographies of the UK asylum system that pushes current literature in novel directions. Congratulations, Georgia!

We wish to congratulate all nominees for producing excellent dissertations under very challenging circumstances. The selection panel was impressed by the depth and care with which these students treated their research, their engagement with carceral geography literatures, and the insights they drew from their rich empirical research. These dissertations presented us with the best of undergraduate research and the decision was a difficult one.

Dissertation abstract:

This paper looks at the challenges faced by pregnant refugee and asylum-seeking women in the UK, along with their ability to utilise social capital to build resilience to these. It discusses the findings of a qualitative study consisting of 17 interviews between 25 and 90 minutes with individuals who work with refugees and asylum-seekers in charitable organisations, which is supplemented with secondary data. The analysis discusses the challenges which participants identified among their clients along with the extent to which these can be resisted through vertical networks of charitable organisations and horizontal networks of friends and family. A theoretical framework is implemented with Bauman’s (2004) wasted lives used to understand the treatment of the state in terms of detention, dispersal and destitution. Galtung’s (1969) structural violence is then used to show how this implicates the health of individuals resulting in a pregnancy outcome whereby the actual realisation is far from the potential realisation. Finally, Putnam’s (1993) social capital is used to show the importance of charitable organisations along with strong kinship ties in improving access to antenatal care and experiences of pregnancy.

This concludes that research must more critically understand refugee and asylum-seeking experiences to appreciate their agency (Nguyen 2012). Whilst this research attempts to do this, there is a need to use creative methodologies which work alongside these individuals and form research outcomes that can educate healthcare providers, the general public and this group to have a significant effect on overcoming these challenges. Furthermore, although Putnam’s (1993) social capital is useful in enabling this agency to be recognised this framework does need some re-evaluation to recognise the negative implication that strong social capital can have on healthcare access.

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 

Organizers:  

Nancy Hiemstra (Stony Brook University, nancy.hiemstra@stonybrook.edu

Deirdre Conlon (University of Leeds, d.conlon@leeds.ac.uk)  

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 d.conlon@leeds.ac.uk and Nancy Hiemstra nancy.hiemstra@stonybrook.edu. 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. 

References 

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 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564373 

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).