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RSC Seminar, 5 February 2020

RSC Public Seminar Series, Hilary term 2020

Seminar series: Feminism, Categorisation and Forced Migration

Convened by Catherine Briddick, Martin James Departmental Lecturer in Gender and Forced Migration

This interdisciplinary series will explore a range of topics in refugee law, politics and history with particular attention being paid to feminist and/or gendered approaches to displacement and mobility and the categorisation(s) of people as ‘refugees’, ‘citizens’, ‘settlers’ or ‘migrants’.

About the seminar

As gendered discourses around migration proliferate, focus is often trained on experiences of women in interpersonal capacities, primarily in regard to subjections to predominately male violence. Drawing on research in Britain and activist participation with women seeking asylum, this article expands this focus into the realm of state-corporate harms against women. Previous research evidences that immigration law and policy often work to minimalise autonomy at the ground level, and dependence on spousal visas or housing and finances can exacerbate dependence on men, including violent men. This article argues that this punitive landscape of Britain’s asylum system facilitates further violence against women seeking asylum, rather than ensuring protection. Moreover, harm is inflicted by the structures of coercive control set out by the state and its amorphous relations with corporations. Such structures are largely manufactured by the British state, but increasingly enacted by its corporate allies. These environments, I argue, mirror those of domestically violent perpetrators and work to gradually corrode women’s autonomy and indeed sense of safety. 

About the speaker

Victoria Canning is senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Bristol. She has spent more than a decade working on the rights of migrants, in particular women survivors of violence. Vicky is a trustee at Statewatch, associate director at Border Criminologies at Oxford University, and co-coordinator at the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control. She is co-creator of the Right to Remain Asylum Navigation Board with Lisa Matthews. Her book Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System won the 2018 British Society of Criminology book prize, and she acted as consultant on the Bafta award winning documentary series Exodus: Our Journey to Europe.

Photo: Artistic installation in Mexico City for International Women's Day 2018. © UN Women/Dzilam Mendez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)