Upcoming event: Explorations in Carceral Geography – Friday 17 December

Explorations in Carceral Geography is a new participatory and interdisciplinary seminar series in Carceral Geography, organised by Christophe Mincke, Olivier Milhaud and Anna Schliehe.

The first seminar, Manifest for a politics of rhythm, will take place on Friday 17 December 2021, 10am to 12pm CET.

In this first seminar in the ‘Explorations’ series, we will hear from a group of sociologists and philosophers working on space and mobility. They propose to bring rhythm into debates on spatial and social practices. We will introduce them to carceral research on this topic and will hear about wider discussions and deep reflections on how ‘rhythm’ might offer a new lens for the carceral sphere and beyond.

Invited speakers:

  • Guillaume Drevon – Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research
  • Vincent Kaufmann – Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • Luca Pattaroni – Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Free online event. Please register at: www.eventbrite.com/e/explorations-in-carceral-geography-tickets-207469917107

The Explorations in Carceral Geography seminar series aims to provide the time and space to engage in an in-depth way with scholarship on the carceral or on topics that are of interest for carceral researchers. The seminar will focus on extensive discussion and an in-depth insight into works such as books, PhD theses or series of articles. For more information, please visit our event page or download the event flyer.

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 


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. 


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

Carceral Geography Working Group AGM

*With apologies for cross-posting*

Dear colleagues,

As noted on the AGM page for the RGS-IBG, the Annual General Meeting of the Carceral Geography Working Group (CGWG) of the RGS-IBG will take place online on Monday 6 September, 11:30 – 13:00 UK time (GMT+1).

All welcome. As well as the formal business of running the working group, it’s a great opportunity for us to meet and hear from the wide range of researchers who are linked to our network. We are particularly keen to discuss the upcoming schedule of CGWG events and plans to develop our ECR programme.

If you wish to send agenda items for discussion, please email our secretary Lauren Martin (lauren.martin@durham.ac.uk) by Friday 27th August. This is especially encouraged for any members where the time-zone does not allow attendance – we will happily provide feedback on the discussion around your point of interest.

This meeting will be held over Zoom. Register for the Zoom session via Eventbrite.

All the best,

Jennifer Turner (Chair, CGWG)

Lauren Martin (Secretary, CGWG)

Anna Schliehe (Treasurer, CGWG)

New Prize for Best Postgraduate ‘Paper’ in Carceral Geography

The Carceral Geography Working Group are pleased to announce a new prize to recognise postgraduate research. For the first time since its establishment, the CGWG are in a position to be able to offer a prize for the Best Postgraduate ‘Paper’.

A £50 prize will be awarded for postgraduate research. The prize-winner will also be offered one-day registration for the Annual International Conference of the RGS-IBG and invited to feature their writing on the Carceral Geography website.

The prize will be awarded for the best research ‘paper’, which could be derived from a Masters thesis, PhD chapter, or a conference paper script. No more than 5000 words should be submitted. Where students submit a script for a conference paper, a copy of any accompanying slides should also be submitted. Papers should include a full set of references and figures (as relevant).

The prize is open to both current and former postgraduate students at both Masters and PhD level. In order to be eligible for the prize, former postgraduate students must have submitted a Masters or doctoral dissertation no earlier than 12 months before the prize deadline. Where any applicant wishes to submit a conference script for consideration, the conference paper should have been delivered no earlier than 12 months before the prize deadline.

Applications from outside the UK are welcomed but the paper should be written in (or translated professionally in) to English. Students need not necessarily be aligned to a geography(-related) discipline but their work should engage with issues of carcerality and/or themes emergent in carceral geographies.

Papers should be submitted by the student in pdf format with an appropriate research supervisor copied into the email.

For any further details or questions please contact Dr Lauren Martin using the details below. 

Submissions to: Dr Lauren Martin (lauren.martin@durham.ac.uk)

Deadline: 1 November 2021

Deportability and UK Families:

New research led by Birmingham Fellow Dr Melanie Griffiths being launched on 8th June explores the impact of the UK’s immigration system on mixed-nationality families. Researchers followed 30 couples and families to examine the ways in which their lives were affected by one member’s insecure immigration status and the threat of separation through immigration detention, removal or deportation.

In-depth interviews with these couples were combined with interviews with practitioners from legal, private, state and civil society sectors, observation of deportation appeals and analysis of changing policies around immigration and Article 8 (the right to respect for one’s private and family lives). The research shows how precarious immigration status of one family member has significant and wide-ranging impact on the whole family, including British citizens and children. As a result of a parent or partner’s immigration status, British citizens find themselves also living under chronic insecurity, with the ongoing threat of either being separated or forced to leave the UK. The whole family find themselves harmed; often in extreme ways and across all aspects of their lives. People are made sicker, poorer, unhappier and disenfranchised from their citizenship. Children’s behaviour, mental health, education, financial security and feelings of Britishness and belonging are significantly affected.

The report from this project is being launched at an online webinar at 4pm on 8th June 2021, in collaboration with the NGO Bail for Immigration Detainees and Chaired by Baroness Shami Chakrabati CBE. All are welcome at this event and for discussion with speakers including Sonali Naik QC and a parent directly affected by these issues. Please register on the event page.  For more information about the project and its outputs (including blog posts, journal articles and policy briefings), please visit the project webpage.

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). 

Call for events and activities organisers

The Carceral Geography Working Group (CGWG) of the RGS-IBG invites Expressions of Interest from potential organisers for mid-term activities in 2021-2022.

Following the success of the 4th International Conference for Carceral Geography, delegates expressed willingness to both organise and engage with events outside of the traditional conference format. The global pandemic has witnessed the emergence of virtual networking activities and there is certainly scope to develop networking activities along these lines. In addition, since the International Conference will retain its now biennial format, there is now scope in the research calendar for other events that will be of interest to members of our networks. Suggested formats included one-day workshops related to a particular method and/or theme; dedicated networking events; publishing advice and guidance sessions; one-off seminars or a series of short linked events. The possibilities are more numerous than listed here and we look forward to supporting as many of these activities as we can!

Accordingly, the committee invite Expressions of Interest to host one of these such events. Hosts may determine their own event theme(s) and format. Although we would anticipate the primary organisational activities being undertaken by the event organisers, these organisers can expect to be supported by the CGWG committee or members of the CGWG Advisory Board, e.g. in the form of developing ideas, making formal invitations, hosting material on the carceral geography website, chairing sessions, etc, if required.

Expressions of Interest should be sent to Jennifer Turner, Chair of the CGWG, at jennifer.turner@uni-oldenburg.de by 30 April 2021. The committee will then liaise with organisers on a case-by-case basis to develop an event programme. If numerous proposals are received that result in conflicting activities/schedules, the committee may suggest collaboration between individual proposals to combine events.

More details and a proposal template can be found here. Please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer via the means above to ask questions or discuss initial ideas.

Recordings from the 4th International Conference for Carceral Geography now online!

We are delighted to announce that the video recordings from the 4th International Conference for Carceral Geography now available online! If you missed any of the sessions and/or you’d like to revisit any of the excellent conference presentations, please visit the 2020 Conference Programme on our website and click on individual session links to access the recordings.

Congratulations to the organisers on a wonderful conference and for the careful producing of it, which has facilitated this excellent resource.

Happy (re)viewing!

Call for conference organisers for the 5th International Conference for Carceral Geography

The Carceral Geography Working Group (CGWG) of the RGS-IBG invites Expressions of Interest from potential organising committees for the 5th International Conference for Carceral Geography.

The committee of the CGWG invite Expressions of Interest from colleagues within the network to host the 5th International Conference for Carceral Geography in 2022. Whilst the conference should reflect the research focus of the CGWG, hosts may determine their own conference theme and have flexibility in the format of the conference proceedings. Host can expect to be supported by the CGWG committee or members of the CGWG Advisory Board, if required.

Expressions of Interest should, in the first instance, be sent to Jennifer Turner, Chair of the CGWG, at jennifer.turner@uni-oldenburg.de by 30 April 2021. A selection of potential organising committees would then be invited to complete a Full Proposal by the deadline of 31 July 2021.

The deadline is pre-emptive of both the organising time required for an international conference and the deadline for relevant RGS grant applications to provide financial support for the conference.

More details and proposal templates can be found here. Please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer via the means above to ask questions or discuss initial ideas.