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.

Speaker bio:

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.