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This talk will cover two goals: first, to present the Italian context of immigration detention, recently undergoing an alarming reform that mandates the expansion of the detention estate; second, focus on the case of Rome Centre for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) and particularly on the lived experiences of women detained inside it. Based on interviews collected during fieldwork, I will illustrate how gender and sexuality, in relation to other hierarchies of power such as class, race and nationality, profoundly shape women’s experiences, whilst also playing a role in their production as excludable and deportable subjects. I focus on everyday experiences in detention, a topic still understudied. I will discuss how women - sometimes simultaneously - accept, manipulate, negotiate, and contest the racial, gender, and sexual norms that structure the regime of detention management. Also, I will illustrate sisterhood and solidarity as crucial resources for coping with detention and undermining the deportation machine. Photos and short videos depicting scenes of everyday life inside the Rome detention centre will be showcased. I seek to promote an exchange between participants about the arbitrary realities of detention in several national contexts (Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, etc), and foster opportunities to connect and collaborate.

About the speaker

Francesca is a PhD candidate in Community Psychology at the ISPA-University Institute of Lisbon, under the supervision of Profs José Ornelas (ISPA-IU) and Caterina Arcidiacono (Federico II University of Naples). Her project, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, is an ecological study of immigration detention centres in Italy and Portugal. Francesca uses mixed qualitative/quantitative methods and ethnographic observations to study life in sites of confinement, and the lived experiences of people within them. Francesca is also a member of the feminist NGO BeFree. From 2008 to 2012, she worked as an advocate for women victims of gender violence held in Rome’s detention centre.

Sandwich lunch will be provided. 

Seminar convened by the Refugee & Migration Law Discussion Group, co-hosted with Border Criminologies at Oxford’s Centre for Criminology.

The Refugee and Migration Discussion Group also welcomes offers to present papers or other work-in-progress to the group or to lead discussion. Please do contact one of the convenors if you are interested in talking to the group or if you have an idea for an informal discussion.

The group’s co-convenors are Yulia Ioffe (, Maayan Ravid (, and Teresa Büchsel ( Our Senior Member is Professor Cathryn Costello.

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Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

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Forthcoming events

Skilled worker visas for refugees – a qualitative evaluation of the UK’s Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot

Wednesday, 05 June 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

A celebration of the life of David Turton

Saturday, 20 July 2024, 2pm to 3pm @ The Crypt Cafe, St Peters Church, Northchurch Terrace, London N1 4DA