On Intimate Economies, Immigration Detention, and Silencing. By Deirdre Conlon

Over the past few years I have been working on a project investigating ‘Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention’ in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Hiemstra (Stony Brook University, NY). The project critically interrogates the infrastructure and operation of immigration detention in the U.S. The U.S. immigration detention system is vast and expanding with substantial revenue generation and profit making for a wide array of private and public sector actors. The system has expanded 75 per cent since 2003, with 34,000 immigrants detained per day in over 200 detention facilities throughout the U.S.[1]  By comparison, in the UK, on average between 2,500 and 3,500 immigrants are detained daily and a total of 28,908 people were detained in 2016.[2]  When it comes to the economics of detention, a good deal of attention focuses on the ‘macro-level’ cost, that is the daily rate received by detention facilities from the federal government to house immigration detainees. This figure is $124 (£92.00) per day in the U.S. (The estimated average per day cost is £86.00 in the UK.) Our project, in contrast, focuses on additional ways that revenue and profit are generated from immigration detention. We trace and examine contracts and subcontracts in order to investigate what we describe as the micro-level, intimate economies of immigration detention. You can read about the project here, here, and here.

Conlon and Hiemstra (eds.) 2016. Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention: Critical Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge.

At presentations and in teaching about this research one question that comes up frequently is ‘why intimate?’ There are numerous ways this project resonates with critical feminist perspectives on ‘intimacy’. Some scholars emphasize the closeness and knowledge that develops when in close proximity to someone or something. Others highlight a level of scrutiny that intimate familiarity allows. Feminist scholars and political geographers, in particular, call attention to the politics of scale and to the ways intimate, everyday experiences and processes of production and exchange are embedded in complex relationships that reverberate beyond the personal to scales from the domestic to the global.[3]

Recently, I presented some reflections from the Intimate Economies project at the Human Geography seminar series at the University of Exeter alongside a presentation by Naomi Millner from the University Bristol. I spoke about some of the frustrations and challenges of trying to get hold of and then decipher documents received using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the division of federal government that administers the U.S. immigration detention system.[4] Even though the government is required to respond within 20 days of receiving a FOIA request, delays are all-too-common. In our case we were kept waiting 14 months before receiving a massive digital file that, in total, gave us a data set comprised of over 2,000 pages detailing the infrastructure and day-to-day operations of several detention facilities in the New York and New Jersey region.

Adding to our sense of frustration was the fact that almost 40 per cent of pages included redactions. This means that any/all information related to money, personnel, immigrant detainees, service providers as well as other contract and subcontract details are obscured or hidden. In effect, the intimate details about the operation of detention centers are rendered invisible. Efforts to discern who is involved in immigration detention (beyond ‘big name’ corporations such as GEO Group and CoreCivic in the U.S. or Serco and G4S in the UK), how money is made, and how profits are generated, are, effectively stymied and quite readily silenced by such redactions.

Deirdre Conlon presenting on FOIAs and U.S. Immigration Detention (photo from the Second Annual Carceral Geography Conference, University of Birmingham, December 11-12th 2017).

In her presentation Naomi Millner spoke about the ways participants are silenced in research and, reflecting on her broad based experience with participatory fieldwork, discussed the complexity of research relationships and efforts to ‘represent’ participants’ experiences. Naomi identified a number of principles that work toward countering the silencing that takes place in academic research. She called attention to listening, writing with the voices of others, attending to the more-than-human elements of exchanges, and voicing, in distinction from voices.

All in all this was an interesting and inspiring seminar and our presentations complemented one another in unexpected ways. Implicitly and explicitly our presentations demonstrated the significance of the ‘intimate’ in research. Both presentations also highlighted how ‘silencing’ registers as power in and across multiple domains, from relationships between the researcher and participants, to state dynamics and their effects. It also seemed apt that the seminar took place at a time when the ‘me too’ campaign has unveiled the silencing that besieges sexual harassment and assault within the public at large. This seminar, then, provided me with a timely opportunity to contemplate and critically reflect on silencing in research and in academia more broadly. Importantly, too, it affirmed how feminist perspectives can contribute to amplifying the challenges as well as alternative ways of producing knowledge and developing social relations where matters of intimacy and urgency are not silenced.


[1] See Detention Watch Network (2014) www.detentionwatchnetwork.org.

Note: These figures are for 2014. The average number of immigrants detained on a daily basis in the first few months of 2017 was 41,000; see D. Conlon (2017) Immigration enforcement, asylum and economic value in Trump’s first 100 days, Society and Space, July 4. http://societyandspace.org/author/deirdre-conlon/

[2] See The Migration Observatory (2017) Immigration Detention in the UK, May 2. http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/immigration-detention-in-the-uk/. While the UK detention estate is small by comparison to the U.S. it is the largest in Europe, capacity has grown since the early 1990s, and it is largely privatized.

[3] See, for example, Lauren Berlant (2000) Intimacy. Chicago: Chicago University Press; Geraldine Pratt and Victoria Rosner (eds.) (2012) The global and the intimate: feminism in our time. New York: Columbia University Press.

[4] The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a U.S. federal law that allows members of the public access to information held by government agencies upon written request. Government agencies are required to release information unless it falls under specific exemptions. The UK has similar laws in place and individuals can file Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for information held by public authorities.

Dr Deirdre Conlon is based in the School of Geography, University of Leeds.

Contact: d.conlon@leeds.ac.uk

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GFGRG 2016-17 Dissertation Prize

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2016-17 dissertation prize:

First prize

The gendered working culture of Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry: A study of women’s experiences of the ‘downturn’. 

Georgia Emily Smith, University of Edinburgh

This dissertation explores the everyday experiences of women in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen in Scotland, during a time of economic crisis; an area which has received inadequate academic attention. Drawing on insights from in-depth interviews and attendance of corporate events, this research examines how a gendered working culture is (re)produced through the everyday practices and perceptions that circulate in the oil and gas sector. As a traditionally ‘technical’ industry dominated by men, the oil and gas industry is an interesting and important area through which to study gender dynamics at work. Guided by feminist geographies, this research will interrogate how the roles in oil and gas have become gendered (Faulkner, 2006), and how leadership positions in this industry have become associated with extrovert masculinity (Ko, Kotrba and Roebuck, 2015). Following on from this, the study will highlight the critical ways that women ’on the ground’ suggested gender inequalities should best be tackled. This research will all be situated and contextualised within the economic crisis, or ‘downturn’, that the oil and gas industry has faced for the last two and a half years (Oil and Gas UK, 2016). By using the downturn as a backdrop, my research will suggest that the economic crisis has crucially transformed the gendered working culture of oil and gas. I will suggest that the anxieties people have following the downturn have played out in varied ways, serving to strengthen the gendered working culture in some ways, while, counter-intuitively, breaking it down in others. This leads me to conclude that how people feel is crucially informed by the everyday realities of being a woman in the oil and gas industry during a period of economic crisis.

Second prize

A Bosnian girl: Understanding the female gender and nationality, in post-conflict, post-socialist Sarajevo.

Rebecca Collinson, Cardiff University

Whilst the nationalist driven war of Yugoslavia produced immense consequences felt by all Yugoslavs alike, suffering was not experienced in the same way or to the same degree between the sexes. Therefore, if feminist geographers seek to transform gender relations, the intersection between gender and other identities such as nationality and religion must be explored. Using qualitative interviews, this research investigates the hidden acts of multiple discrimination women in Sarajevo experience today, within the socio-political networks of a post-conflict and post-socialist city. Key findings of this research are presented through three themes. Firstly, nationalism and wartime rape of women. Secondly, the complex relationship between national identity and religious identity and finally, the role of the economic decline in producing and reproducing gendered identities. Overall, this research will explore the complexity of female identity construction, and how it is simultaneously bound with other identities through reflection of the self and ‘other’, within the urban context of Sarajevo.

Third prize

Women’s empowerment, development discourse and shifting subjectivities: Everyday performances of gender in rural Uganda.

Caragh Bennett, University of Oxford

This dissertation explores the gendered impacts of the introduction of a women’s empowerment programme by a development NGO in Uganda. Through a post-colonial feminist approach, this dissertation aims to uncover dominant discourses within the organisation and observe the impact of the presence of the women’s empowerment programme on gendered subjectivities. A case study approach is adopted using the example of Empower a Child in Zirobwe village. This research has engaged in qualitative data collection through ethnographic methods carried out over three weeks in the village of Zirobwe. This dissertation argues that expected gender performances are changing in Zirobwe as women on the programme can negotiate competing discourses to choose where to position themselves as subjects. The study finds that the discourse of the NGO contains gendered and racialised hierarchies and that ‘zones of contention’ have been created between competing and overlapping discourses from the NGO and the local norms. The study also finds that the women’s empowerment programme has still been largely unsuccessful in transforming local norms on a wider scale, and that impact in this way is at present limited to a younger group of individuals. This dissertation builds on and contributes to existing Gender and Development literature in Uganda such as Ochieng 2003, Guma 2015 and Wyrod 2008.

Congratulations to our winners.

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Call for Papers for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

New and Emerging Research within Gender and Feminist Geographies


Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group (GFGRG)


Harriet Larrington-Spencer, Department of Geography, University of Manchester harriet.larrington-spencer@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

Melike Peterson, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow h.peterson.1@research.gla.ac.uk


These sessions are aimed at postgraduates and early career researchers who would like an opportunity to present their research in a supportive and constructive academic environment and at researchers at all stages of their careers that are interested in presenting papers that actively engage with discussions on current and emerging theoretical or methodological innovations in the field of feminist and gender geography.

‘Gender and Feminist Geographies’ is intended to cover a broad spectrum of research and papers are welcome from any area of feminist and gender geographical inquiry, with the aim of bringing together current and emerging themes, issues and approaches. Papers are especially welcome that connect with this year’s theme ‘geographic landscapes/changing landscapes of geography’.

Researchers at any stage in their research process are welcome, making the session a great opportunity for early career and postgraduate researchers to gain experience presenting their work. The sessions will also provide a forum to meet and discuss emerging ideas with other researchers in a friendly and relaxed environment, as well as opportunities to explore possibilities and relevance of engaging with feminist theory and methods within research.

Session Organisation:

Sessions 1: Paper presentations: involving five presentations each lasting around 15 minutes with time for questions

Sessions 2: Snapshot presentations: involving ten to fifteen presentations each lasting 2 minutes (with the option to use pictures or creative approaches), followed by an open discussion. Whilst this session is open to anyone, we hope it will provide an opportunity for those not yet ready to present full papers to engage in the conference in a constructive and productive way. This session is also suitable to those wishing to explore the possibilities and relevance of gender and feminist theory to their research.

Abstract Submission:

Please email prospective contributions or any queries to Melike Peterson (h.peterson.1@research.gla.ac.uk) or Harriet Larrington-Spencer (harriet.larrington-spencer@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk). The deadline for submission is Thursday 1st February 2018. Please include:

A title for your presentation;

An abstract of max 150 words;

Your name, affiliation and contact details (email address).

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GFGRG Call for Session Proposals – RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

The Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group (GFGRG) of the RGS-IBG is pleased to extend an invitation to sponsor sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018. The conference will take place at Cardiff University from Wednesday 29 to Friday 31 August 2018, with workshops on Tuesday 28 August. The conference Chair is Professor Paul Milbourne (Cardiff University) and the theme of the conference is ‘Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography’. Full details can be found here:


For further information on the GRGRG, please follow us on Twitter (@GFG_RGSIBG), Facebook (Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group) and via our Listserve email network (GFGRG@JISCMAIL.AC.UK).

The deadline for session proposal submissions to GFGRG is Monday 18 December 2017.

Please email submissions to Johanna Waters (johanna.waters@ouce.ox.ac.uk) including the following details:

i)             session title;

ii)            abstract (up to 300 words);

iii)           name(s) and affiliation(s) of the session convener(s);

iv)           planned session format (e.g. 5 papers; 4 papers and a discussant; panel, etc.)

Conveners will be notified in due course as to whether GFGRG will be able to provide sponsorship for their session. If sponsorship can be provided, full session details (with all proposed papers and presenters) for final submission to the RGS-IBG will be due on Friday 16 February 2018. The details on organizing sessions can be found at:


We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any queries, please contact Jo Waters.


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GFGRG’s Response to Decolonising Geographical Knowledges at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2017. By Heather Jeffrey and Eveleigh Buck-Matthews.

The Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group was well represented at this year’s RGS-IBG Annual International Conference. The research group sponsored sessions spanning a variety of themes in response to the overall conference theme ‘decolonising geographical knowledges’. Sessions focused on: The Costs of Decolonizing the Discipline; Transformative Stories: Trauma, Therapeutic Geographies and Hope; Home futures: towards a critical feminist geography of housing, ageing and health; Rethinking decolonial and postcolonial knowledges beyond Regions; Innovative Research within Gender & Feminist Geography; Que(e)rying Gender, Tourism and Mobilities; and Geographies of Safe Space.

These sessions attracted numerous papers and the abstracts can still be found in the online program.

The calls were popular, several had two or more sessions due to the numbers that answered the call and all pulled in full audiences. Often overrunning with conversations and discussions about challenging oppressive hegemonic practice.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all those that participated. Everyone who ran and organised sessions, chaired sessions, presented papers and to those that came to hear our messages, stories, projects and musings! There are too many to thank individually but you all opened up some very interesting spaces to discuss and talk about the role gender plays in decolonizing knowledge and the ways in which we can progress, break down, broaden and deepen gender and feminist geographies within the academy and outside.

If you couldn’t attend the conference, you can get a sneak peek at some of the goings-on: https://storify.com/HLJeffrey/gfgrg-tweets-at-rgs-ibg

In addition to the amazing and vast research topics considered in these sessions, GFGRG was delighted to sponsor the Erin Sanders-McDonagh’s monograph launch. Erin’s book Women and Sex Tourism Landscapes works to shift essentialising conceptualisations of not just women tourists, but also sex tourism.

The group also successfully ran the Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group mentoring and networking session for the second year running. This workshop-style session was headed up by Eveleigh Buck-Mathews, who utilised appreciative inquiry to get participants thinking through mentoring in order to identify needs, spaces and good practice to inform GFGRG’s idea and practice of mentoring in the future.

Heather Jeffrey and Eveleigh Buck-Matthews are the GFGRG’s out-going Postgraduate Representatives.  The group would like to thank them for all their hard work over the past two years.

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A facilitator’s story: Reflecting on the RGS-IBG’s Qualitative Methods Postgraduate Workshop. By Eveleigh Buck-Matthews

In July, the GFGRG co-sponsored the ‘Reflecting on Qualitative Research Methods’ workshop.  In this second post from the workshop, one of the workshop organisers reflects on her experience of the day.

This is the second year I’ve run a postgraduate workshop at the RGS-IBG. The RGS-IBG and the research groups are happy to let us postgrad reps run free and explore the building, supporting and creating a space for us, the geographical academics in training or otherwise known as PhD researchers.

It has been a bottom up process. Me and my fellow GFGRG postgrad rep, Heather Jeffrey saw a need. We didn’t feel our institutions offered us enough methods training during our PhD studies and because both of us weren’t in geography departments we had to go outside our universities to seek out workshops. I also had a social need, I was one of only three PhD’s to start in my new research centre. I was lacking in geographically likeminded people. I also had no opportunities to teach which I had always wanted to engage with, so the solution was to ask the RGS-IBG if we could run a workshop. Courage, enthusiasm and energy arrived in the guise of my fellow postgrad rep for GFGRG. We soon became thick as thieves!

We had about 15 PhD students for our first workshop, we had a fantastic key note; Dr Erin Sanders who walked us through her research, a sensory ethnography of Soho and her thoughts on her PhD and subsequent early career experience. It was a warm workshop and a pleasure to facilitate, a friendly environment. The feedback, it was needed. We had got what we needed – confirmation that it was wanted and had been helpful and supportive.

Therefore, 2017 rolled up. We had some tricky times, we had to push back the workshop later in the year as Viva preps and hand in dates meant we had to give ourselves more time. However, we took on a friendly face in the form of Dan Casey which gave us the breathing space and support we needed to pull a larger event together.

We were so lucky to have Prof Gillian Rose speak on her work on #smartcities and digital geography methodologies. It was methodologically fascinating as well as being visually beautiful. Following lunch I was up with a free writing workshop, it’s purpose was twofold. To get researchers to reflect on who their participants were and what their needs may be. Secondly, to put forward an alternative way to write and to think about writing. To break down the barriers we may put up against the process of writing and break into ways to encourage creative thinking. My last session looked at mapping, we are geographers after all. The glitter came out and people had the choice to body map or produce imagined maps based on their own research idea’s. A workshop designed to help researchers reflect on their work and research practice and to play with some creative methods of data collection.

(Photo courtesy of @TheaShahrokh)

After a tea break we were back with a session on reflexivity in research. Vignettes framed the ethical jungle that research fieldwork can be. We problematised and worked through how to deal with sometimes dangerous, awkward, confusing and tricky situations that come with primary research. There was strength in having talked through these situations and we practiced the ways in which we may write up reflexivity as well as deal with difficult situations at the time.

It was an exhausting yet fantastic day. The feedback we received was glowing and so pleasing to see. Feedback received such as “Very friendly, supportive, with lots of practical info and advice. Made PhD research seem fun again …!” makes the day worthwhile. People had taken so much from the day and also given us some constructive feedback which we can take forward with us if running similar events in the future. I would again like to thank everyone involved, especially the research groups that supported us:

Participatory Geographies Research Group (@pygyrg) Social Cultural Geographies Research Group (@SCGRG_RGS) Postgraduate Forum (@PGF_RGSIBG) Gender & Feminist Geographies Research Group (@GFG_RGSIBG) Geographies of Leisure and Tourism (@GLTRGuk)

I’d ask that if you are a PhD who has had a good experience, a light bulb moment, a space created you feel has helped please consider actively creating one yourself. It is a lonely experience doing a PhD and it doesn’t take a lot of energy to create a space with and for others, even if it’s just an email around seeing if people fancy the pub. Give back, however, whenever you can and if you’re looking for a way to do this consider becoming a postgraduate representative? running a session? running a workshop? Once you become confident, pass it on and show others it doesn’t have to be lonely, I made sure mine wasn’t.

To look at the day, check out our Twitter story: https://storify.com/eveleigh_bm/rqms


Twitter: @eveleigh_bm


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Re-figuring the city: A feminist walk of London’s monuments to women. By Rosie Martin and Louise Rondel.

… [T]he normative figure of leadership and especially in battle has been masculine.  Women’s inclusion into the nation has been quite specific.  Certainly, ample qualities of stone have been utilised to carve female statues of the nation.  In these, though, women predominantly feature as symbols of virtue, beauty, nurture and justice … It is men, however, who are metonymically linked to the nation.   Women feature as allegorical figures that signify the virtues of the nation.  It is men who literally represent and defend the nation.

Nirmal Puwar (2004) Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place  

The nation’s story is told and retold in those who have been memorialised in stone, bronze and brass in its streets and squares.  London is, in part, made by these statues as well as by those who visit them, pausing to read the plaques attached to them, having their photograph taken with them or indeed passing by without noticing them.

Feminist journalist and activist Caroline Criado Perez (2016) documents that, of the 925 statues listed in the UK national database of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, ‘a mere 2.7 per cent are of historical, non-royal women’:

If you’re a woman, your best chance at becoming a statue is to be a mythical or allegorical figure, a famous virgin, royal or nude.

Googling ‘female statues in London’ and taking out those of allegorical figures or royalty – we want to visit ‘real women who have done real things’ – we find sixteen statues (and it must be noted that of these sixteen, thirteen are of white women) and design a walk that takes in eleven of them starting in Gordon Square and ending at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Violette Szabo
Special Operations Executive
Albert Embankment, SE1

Louisa Blake
Tavistock Square, WC2

(For practical reasons, we do not visit the statues of preacher Catherine Booth in Champion Park, SE5, a woman holding a baby as a memorial to women of the Caribbean in Stockwell Memorial Garden SW9, musician Amy Winehouse in Camden NW1, actor Sarah Siddons in Paddington Green W2 and ballerina Anna Pavlova at the Victoria Palace Theatre SW1).

Noor Inayat Khan
Allied Special Operations Executive
Gordon Square, WC1

Leaving Gordon Square where groups of people are enjoying one of the first warm spring evenings amongst the blooming flowers and budding trees, we make our way alongside commuters rushing to get to the tube station at Holborn from where we cut through Covent Garden heading towards the tourists and living statues of Trafalgar Square.

Virginia Woolf
Tavistock Square, WC2

Margaret MacDonald
Social reformer
Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2

Edith Cavell
St Martin’s Place, WC2

As we approach the tall, imposing monument to Edith Cavell, a German tourist with her son stops to ask us directions to an attraction, and we think through what we know of the area from past experiences here, and check maps on our phones in order to help her navigate accurately across Trafalgar Square and onwards. Surrounding the base of the Edith Cavell statue is a group of real women, older women wearing black and holding signs that reference the lives of women in Yemen affected by UK arms sales.  The Women in Black claim the space around Edith dramatically. As we take a photo of the statue, they ask us who we are, we reply ‘nobody’, explain our mission, then move on too.

Florence Nightingale
Waterloo Place, W1

We walk along Whitehall and discuss the last time we were together, standing here at a rally outside Downing Street on a cold January evening to protest Trump’s ‘travel ban’.  Amongst the tourist crush, we arrive at Westminster Bridge, everyone trying to get a photo of themselves with Big Ben whilst we try to navigate around them to get to the statue Boudica, the plaque now hidden by a stand selling London souvenirs.

Boudica and her daughters
Queen of the Celtic Iceni Tribe
Westminster Bridge, SW1

We pass through Parliament Square and out to the quiet of the river.  Reaching the memorial to Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst in Westminster, we speak about the story of Emily Wilding Davison who hid in the crypt of the Houses of Parliament on the night of the 1911 census, so that she could emerge and have her address registered in the House Of Commons. She was indeed enumerated there, and died just two years later when she famously threw herself under the King’s horse.

Emmeline Pankhurst
Victoria Tower Gardens, SW1

Monument to Women of World War 2
Whitehall, SW1

Finally crossing Lambeth Bridge, tired, the light fading and the last few commuters cycling past us back to south of the river, we wander along Embankment reaching the end of our walk at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Mary Seacole
St Thomas’ Hospital, SE1

Throughout the evening, we are walking at a different rhythm to those around us, our eyes are drawn elsewhere and our attention is focused on what others are oblivious to as we search for the statues, feeling elated when we find them.  We feel that we are occupying a different city to other people and through this occupation, we are making the city differently.

Rosie Martin is a writer and sewing blogger who makes simple instructions so that anyone can make their own clothes.  She takes a hackers’ approach to clothing, opening it up so the power to make it is in everyone’s hands.  She has written DIY Couture: Create Your Own Fashion Collection and No Patterns Needed: DIY Couture from Simple Shapes.  For more information see her website.

Contact: diycouture@gmail.com

Twitter: @diycouture  

Louise Rondel is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London.  She is interested in the relationship between bodies and cities, the beauty industry, sensory methods and feminist geographies.

Contact: l.rondel@gold.ac.uk

Twitter: @LouiseRondel

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Call for Papers: American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting (AAG) 2018, New Orleans, LA, April 10-14th 2018

Destitution Economies: Mapping Relationships of Enforced Precarity and
Migration Control

Session organizers: Kate Coddington (Durham University, UK), Deirdre Conlon
(University of Leeds, UK), Lauren Martin (Durham University, UK).

Recent and emerging work by critical geography and migration studies scholars
examines the incremental, ongoing, everyday, and seemingly banal sites and spaces
where forms of commodification, dispossession, and destitution are (re)produced in
immigration enforcement and in migration control and management. Scholarship on
migration ‘hotspots’ at Europe’s external borders and polymorphic borders (Burridge et
al. 2017; Martin and Prokkola, 2017; SocietyandSpace.org Nov 8, 2016), for example,
describes how states and power are respatialized and reconfigured to produce flexible,
surreptitious, and possibly unintended forms of control. In addition, research that goes
beyond privatization of immigration enforcement and management examines how
bureaucratized, commoditized domopolitics are embedded with the experiences of
detained migrants and asylum seekers on a daily basis (see Mountz, 2010; Darling, 2011;
Conlon and Hiemstra, 2016; Gill, 2016). Critical analyses of the intersections between
(humanitarian) care and control also explore how precarious, insecure, or clandestine
forms of subsistence for destitute asylum seekers as well as other irregular migrants
have become increasingly commonplace (Martin, 2015; Coddington, 2017; Lewis et al.
2015; Williams and Massaro, 2016; Mayblin, 2017).

Fundamental to this work is attention to political economies alongside a feminist
political geographical focus on the everyday workings of states and other agents and
institutions of power. Within this framework, economies are understood to incorporate
and also to exceed more traditional approaches to political economy. Here, economies
are taken to be about production and exchange; yet, simultaneously they are linked to
social, cultural, intersectional, and intimate relationships that manifest in uneven and
complicated ways (see Gilmore, 2007; Wilson, 2012; Pratt and Rosner, 2012; Katz,
2015). This work is also attentive to the slow violence (see Nixon, 2011; Pain, 2014;
Cahill et al. forthcoming) of current policy and practice in immigration enforcement and
control. Work on the reproduction of precariousness through immigration enforcement
therefore highlights the everyday, continual, staggered, and oft-invisible iterations of
structural violence that irregular migrants and other marginalized groups encounter
relentlessly in their day-to-day lives. We identify the production of ‘destitution
economies,’ the sites, spaces and practices where precarity and slow violence are
(re)produced and enacted for irregular migrants, as a key element of life for irregular
migrants today.

This paper session aims to build upon these urgent concerns and emergent research
contributions by bringing together political economic, feminist geographic, and
interdisciplinary work on sites, spaces and practices where (irregular) migration and
destitution economies converge. We invite submissions from those thinking about
destitution economies and/or engaged in related research and activism. Possible
themes may address (but are not limited to) these questions:

– Where do destitution economies take shape? How might they be identified,
mapped, and accounted for?

– How, precisely, do destitution economies work? How do forms of migration
management rely on destitution economies and also help to produce them?
How are they configured? What are their logics and/or limits?

– Who is involved in operating destitution economies? What roles do different
state / non-state agencies and actors play? What is gained (or lost) with their

– What are the short term and longer-term effects and impacts of destitution
economies vis-à-vis migrant everyday life, migration management/control, and
for critical conceptions of the same?

– What methodological challenges and opportunities are presented by ‘destitution

– How are / might critical researchers and migrant support activists/advocates
work (together) to challenge or disrupt the slow, incremental, and frequently
invisible violence that destitution economies effect?

Please send title and abstract of no more than 250 words by Friday October 20th 2017.
Abstracts and inquiries should be sent to: Deirdre Conlon d.conlon@leeds.ac.uk
and Kate Coddington kate.coddington@durham.ac.uk

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I am new to this but it’s OK. By Katie Brailsford

In July, the GFGRG co-sponsored the ‘Reflecting on Qualitative Research Methods’ workshop.  In this post one of the participants reflects on her experience of the day.

Friday 21st July marked my first experience of a RGS-IBG Reflecting on Qualitative Research Methods Day and what a brilliant day it was.  The day started with networking over a well-deserved cup of tea after travelling to the RGS-IBG London headquarters.  I have to admit it is easy to feel daunted approaching a building of such stature, but I soon felt welcome as the session began with an introduction to the day and an explanation of some of the key RGS-IBG research groups, see here for information regarding RGS-IBG postgraduate fellowship.

The session that followed was a key note by none other than Professor Gillian Rose, a key figure in the world of geography. Professor Rose led a key note entitled “A cultural geographer in digital times: doing qualitative methods differently.” This is an area of research that was completely new to me and it was fascinating to hear the methods and techniques Professor Rose used to integrate the analysis of images from twitter into the heart of her research project. As a qualitative researcher who has stuck firmly to the world of interviews, Professor Rose opened my eyes and the question and answer session afterwards also helped me see that as researchers our skills are constantly developing and adapting to the changing world around us. For more information on Professor Rose’s work please click here.

After a tasty lunch and a chance to talk more the afternoon sessions began. This is where my trepidation went up a notch. I can now admit I don’t actually start my PHD until October, what was I going to bring to an interactive session on qualitative methods? There was no need to worry what followed was a superb session led by Eveleigh Buck- Matthews practising free writing, imagined maps and body mapping. Free writing is exactly what it says on the tin: you time yourself for a minute and just write.  This was centred around three themes: the first, how would we feel as our participant? We had one minute to just write whatever came into our heads if we got stuck we just repeated the last word. The next round involved thinking of the tactile qualities of our research what did it feel like as an object and as a sensory experience? For this again we had a minute just to write. For the final round, Eveleigh was generous and gave us two minutes to write how we felt about our research. This was a very liberating experience as there was no right or wrong and there is something very satisfying about getting words onto paper. I feel this technique will come into its own when writer’s block hits allowing progress to still be made. For the second half of this workshop I focussed on creating an imagined map of my project, allowing me to create an image on the current status of my master’s project and map ideas for my upcoming PHD. Eveleigh also explained the practical use of imagined maps for research and how they can be a powerful tool to aid discussions around a particular topic.

The last session of the day was centred around reflexivity where Heather Jeffrey took us through an activity based on other research projects challenging us to talk in small groups stating our opinion on the situation and what we would have done differently. The catch, we were not allowed to comment on anybody else’s opinion allowing us to gain confidence in the validity of our own voice.

Overall the whole day was six hours long but I think it is one of the best six hours I have spent in terms of progression in my thinking surrounding use of different methods. I titled this piece ‘I am new to this but its OK’ because as I left the RGS-IBG that day this is how I felt, after discussion with my peers and a brilliant day of activities I knew that any imposter syndrome feelings I had were just that, feelings, and I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. So I would recommend all masters or early stage researchers to tackle the imposter syndrome straight on and attend events like the RGS-IBG Reflecting on Qualitative Methods workshop. Sometimes the world of research can be isolating but there are opportunities out there to come together and help each other, so take that leap of faith!

Thank you Eveleigh Buck- Matthews, Heather Jeffrey, Dan Casey, Professor Gillian Rose and all those at the RGS-IBG that supported this event.

Katie Brailsford is based at the University of Portsmouth.

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Arguing for Planning from a Gender Perspective. By Gaurav Sikka

Involving both men and women at all levels of development planning, implementation and evaluation will make a world of difference in the entire society by carrying out social change through development interventions. Such planning processes ensure women to be a social resource and treat them as partners in development. This argument presents a robust underpinning for the Gender and Development (GAD) approach. GAD focuses not on women per se but on gender relations i.e. the relations between men and women in diverse settings. GAD approach considers women as active agents and not passive recipients of development.

Planners must have the significant task of listening to both men and women and then to build their vision into planning strategies. A sense needs to prevail that planning is more than just a technical and mechanical exercise. The policymakers may set the planning agenda but it is the planners’ perspective which influences the levels of ardour to fulfil the policymakers’ wish. In fact, the planners are front-line agents of the state’s development intervention. Therefore, they are not merely technical experts but also political actors in the development process.

Since women are affectively attached to the welfare of the household, they are more aware than men about the needs for infrastructure and services for their household. They are also more committed to the success of the projects that improves living conditions, therefore, women’s participation is a means to improve project results (Young, 1997).

Moreover, in 1997 the gender mainstreaming adopted by UN as a global strategy which was based upon the Beijing Platform for Action, has also incorporated many gender planning concepts (Moser, 2014). Gender planning attempts to bridge the gap between theory, practice and gender planning, its prin­ciples and practices are still relevant today. Furthermore, gender planning contributes to the continuous demand for practitioner-focused gender frameworks to create awareness among new generations, as well as providing associated tools for policy, planning and project formulation and implementation.

Good Practice

A case study of Song Bong 4 Hydropower project in Vietnam can be mentioned as a good practice of planning from a gender perspective. The resettlement plan of the project has ensured the equal participation of women at all stages. Women’s voices were heard and agreement was reached in resettlement consultations, women’s role in site selection, women’s contribution in design and management of infrastructure at sites were some of the pioneering features of gender inclusive approach adopted by these authorities.  The intrinsic value of women’s participation for both women themselves and their communities is reflected in the fact that women are continuing to meet on a regular basis even after their villages have been fully relocated (ADB, 2014). These meetings are avenues to discuss issues ranging from private to community matters at the resettlement sites. Gender-related benefits in resettlement have also emerged in this project. Women have equal entitlement to compensation like joint titles in the name of both husband and wife, the same individual rights have been guaranteed for households headed by a single man or a single woman and the practice of paying cash compensation to both husbands and wives equally, transparently and publicly. Besides, women have direct channels of grievance redressal, women enjoy improved mobility, access to services like healthcare and maximum opportunities to develop skills and capacity of affected women.

Further Readings:

Asian Development Bank, “Navigating Gender Inclusive Resettlement: The Experience of the Song Bong 4 Hydropower Project in Vietnam”, Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2014

Moser, C.O.N., “Gender Planning and Development: Revisiting, Deconstructing and Reflecting”, DPU Working Paper Series: Reflections, No. 165/60, London: Development Planning Unit, University College London, 2014

Moser, C.O.N., Gender Planning and Development, London: Routledge, 1993

Young, K., “ Gender and Development”, in The Women, Gender & Development Reader edited by Nalini Vivanathan et.al., 51-54, New Delhi: Zubaan- An Imprint of Kali for Women, 1997

Young, K., “ Planning from a Gender Perspective”, in  The Women, Gender & Development Reader edited by Nalini Vivanathan et.al., 366-374, New Delhi: Zubaan- An Imprint of Kali for Women, 1997

Gaurav Sikka is a PhD Research Scholar at Department of Geography, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (India). He holds positions on the steering committee of International Geographical Union Task Force for Young and Early Career Geographers and the executive committee of the Royal Geographical Society Gender & Feminist Geographies Research Group. Presently, Gaurav teaches at the Department of Geography, Aditi Mahavidyalaya, University of Delhi.

Contact: gauravsikkageo@gmail.com

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