Bordering, Detention and Deportation

Key information

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Virtual Event

About this event

Systems of confinement are not just enforced by prison officers and the police. They are enforced by border guards and detention agents too. Too often, realities of bordering, detention and deportation are understood independently from how they operate within this much broader, carceral regime. Narrow, penal-centric discussions - which conceptualise incarceration within the confines of “criminal justice” - routinely ignore the experiences of racialised populations confined in migrant detention centres, refugee camps, offshore processing centres and border checkpoints. This workshop understands how forms of bordering, detention and deportation are a constitutive element of mass incarceration itself. In fact, by identifying the ways in which “the prison-industrial complex” and the “border-industrial complex” interact, we will learn how systems of bordering, detention and deportation do not just constitute forms of incarceration, but also facilitate the growth of incarceration elsewhere.

In our analysis, we will ask how colonial logics have long criminalised, detained and dehumanised those who are compelled to cross national boundaries. Building on an historical analysis of the relationship between convict labour, human transportation, this workshop traces systems of bordering, detention and deportation to its colonial roots, and diagnoses its function today: to protect colonially acquired wealth, and to uphold hierarchies of race, class and gender.

The workshop will be loosely structured by, but not limited to, the following questions:

1) What is the experience of people in migrant detention, refugee camps and border checkpoints across the world? What inequalities and structural injustices does their detainment reflect and reproduce?
2) What is the colonial function of bordering, detention and deportation? How does this reflect historical patterns of transportation (and carceral labour)
How does bordering, detention and deportation differ between colonising nations (e.g. the UK), settler colonial states (e.g. Australia) and former colonies (e.g. Jamaica)?
3) How are the experiences of those inside migrant detention centres and refugee camps in the “Global North” connected to the wider carceral experiences of those in the “Global South”? How does the globality of detention affect the way we understand these categorisations?


Professor Sharry Aiken is an Associate Professor at Queen’s Law with a cross appointment to Cultural Studies. She is an expert on immigration and refugee law and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of precedent setting immigration cases. Professor Aiken convened the workshop “De-Carceral Futures: Bridging Prison and Immigration Justice” at Queen’s Law in May 2019., which sparked a broader public conversation about immigration detention and its consequences.

Dr Enrique Martino is a postdoctoral teaching and research fellow at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. His expertise is in social and economic history, and particularly the study of exchange, money, labour, and kinship in African history. Enrique is the Digital Editor of the journal HAU published by the Society of Ethnographic Theory. His current research digs deeper into narratives of “modern slavery” – and more specifically how this term obscures the direct predecessor of what is today called human trafficking and people smuggling—the turbulent and transformative colonial period.

Dr Fiori Berhane is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on the politics of collective memory among the Eritrean diaspora in northern Italy within the context of the migration crisis. Broadly, her research interests include global Black studies, critical refugee studies, and studies of historical and collective memory. Broadly, she looks at notions of race, belonging, transnationalism, and the formation of communities under conditions of protracted political violence. Her work is situated broadly in socio-cultural anthropology, with an emphasis on political anthropology.

Each speaker will present for around 15-20 minutes before opening up to questions from the audience. If you have any questions about the event, please email Oly Durose at

This is the second instalment in a series of online workshops which are part of the Carceral Policy, Policing and Race Project. For more information about the Project, please visit:

This event will be held on Zoom:

Meeting ID 951 6436 3424

Passcode: JHk8mTvETV

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