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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 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.

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

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

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Forthcoming events

SEMINAR CANCELLED | The digital border and its techno-symbolic assemblages of power

Tuesday, 21 February 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ Seminar Room 2, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

SEMINAR CANCELLED | Asylum, digital surveillance and platform power

Tuesday, 28 February 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ Seminar Room 2, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Public Law as Infrastructure of Imperial Governance

Tuesday, 07 March 2023, 9.20am to 6.15pm @ Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Mansfield College, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TF

Palestine Refugees and International Law

Friday, 10 March 2023 to Saturday, 11 March 2023 @ University of Macedonia, Egnatia 156, Thessaloniki 546 36, Greece

CANCELLED - Recognising Refugees | RSC Conference 2023

Monday, 20 March 2023 to Tuesday, 21 March 2023 @ Keble College, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PG