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Immigration Detention Lancaster Conference

Date: 22 & 23 January 2015 Time: 9.30am

Venue: Lancaster University FASS Building

For the most up to date information see

The Business of Immigration Detention: Activisms, Resistances, Critical Interventions

Thursday 22 January at6pm Performance by ice&fire, followed by wine reception and buffet

Friday 23 January10- 5pm conference Lancaster University, Lancaster UK

In January 2015, the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University (CeMoRe), will host an ESRC sponsored conference "The Business of Immigration Detention: Activisms, Resistances, Critical Interventions" (which is the final event in part of a larger series of workshops titled 'Exploring Everyday Practice and Resistance in Immigration Detention'). Bringing together a range of leading academics, post-graduate researchers, 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 contemporary global detention practices. The aim of this final event in the ESRC sponsored series, is to consider the challenges facing academics and activists in the area of immigration detention (and related practices).

The administrative detention and deportation of adults classified as 'illegal' escalated in the late 1990s with a policy shift from the detention of very small numbers of migrants in mainstream prisons to the development of specialist migrant detention facilities. For example, between 25,000 and 30,000 'illegal' migrants are held in detention per year in the UK. There are thirteen specialist privately-run immigration detention centres and several smaller holding facilities managed by UKBA at major airports and ports. The average daily overall cost of one bed per day in the immigration detention estate is £120, with a typical immigration removal center (IRC) costing almost £8.5 million per year to operate (see Silverman and Hajela, 2012). Successive UK governments have argued that this escalation in detention is 'an essential, everyday facet of immigration control' and 'regrettable but necessary' (see Silverman 2012). However, while arguments about the 'necessity' of detention are grounded in notions of deterrence, threat and security, the expansion of immigration detention, and the practices that determine who is taken into detention, are also driven by business interests. Detention is a business, and the profits to be made are key determinants of both transnational and state-level policy formation and everyday detention practices. Further, this global business is proliferating new markets for global securities companies which extend outside the detention estate into the provision of services, such as housing and welfare for migrant and increasingly 'citizen' populations (for example in running prison, police and schools services).

At this event we will ask what Frances Webber describes as 'the vexed question of when, if and how we should engage with statutory bodies and whether it is possible to do so without jeopardising the principles which led us to get involved in this work in the first place'? (Weber, 2012). Should activism and activist-scholarship aim to resist state practices of detention entirely, or work with private and state actors in order to change detention practices? What forms of critical intervention and resistance are useful or possible in this field?

To address these questions, we are inviting leading scholars, from the US and Canada, academics, artists and activists to address to share their research and experience, and to reflect, listen, learn and debate questions of resistance to immigration detention, from local, national and global perspectives.

Confirmed Speakers:

Dr Alison Mountz, Associate Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. Dr. Mountz's work explores the tension between the decisions, displacements, and desires that drive human migration and the policies and practices designed to manage migration. She is author of Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border (2011) and leads the 'Island Detention Project'

Dr Jenna Loyd is an Associate Professor based in Milwaukee and a prison and detention abolitionist activist. She is the author of Health Rights Are Civil Rights: Peace and Justice Activism in Los Angeles, 1963-1978 (2014) and co-editor of Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis (2013).

Christine Bacon is Artistic Director of ice&fire, who will be performing at a free public event at Lancaster University chaplaincy Centre on the evening of Thursday 23rd of January to mark the beginning of our conference. Christine has been involved in numerous grassroots campaigns, including Actors for Refugees Australia. She moved to the UK in 2004 to complete an MSc. in Forced Migration at Oxford University. She founded ice&fire's outreach network Actors for Human Rights. Plays for ice&fire include On the Record (with Noah Birksted-Breen); Afghan Monologues, Rendition Monologues; The Illegals; Broke; Seven Years with Hard Labour (with Sara Masters); and Listen to Me (with Sara Masters).

Dr Mary Bosworth is Director of Graduate Studies at the Centre for Criminology at Oxford University, where she is a Reader in Criminology and, concurrently, Professor of Criminology at Monash University, Australia. Dr Bosworth conducts research into the ways in which prisons and immigration detention centres uphold notions of race, gender and citizenship and how those who are confined negotiate their daily lives. Dr Bosworth is currently heading a five-year project on "Subjectivity, Identity and Penal Power: Incarceration in a Global Age" and with colleagues from Monash is conducting research in Greek Immigration Detention Centres. Details of both of these projects can be found on the website

Dr Maja Sager is a COFAS Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Gender Studies, Lund University and, between 2012 and 2015, a visiting researcher at the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK. Her PhD 'Everyday Clandestinity: Experiences on the Margins of Citizenship and Migration Policies' (2011) is based upon an ethnographic study with irregular migrants and migration rights activists and discusses how national belonging, citizenship and social organising are practiced and represented in the Swedish welfare state. Maja is currently undertaking her postdoctoral research with migrant activist groups in the UK, Sweden and Denmark.

Pa Modou Bojang is the Director of Kibaaro Radio, a journalist, writer and refugee. Pa Modou Bojang (Prince) is also a former immigration detainee and a founding member of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid , a Liverpool based activist organisation comprised of mirgant and 'citizen' artists, poets, writers and performers.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Imogen Tyler

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Crime, Law and Justice, Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe), Crime and Criminal Justice, International Human Rights Obligations Network (IntHRON), Law, Migrancy Research Group, Politics and International Relations, Sociology

Keyword: Immigration law


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