Immigration Detention Archive

A collection of objects made in detention and documents about these sites of confinement.

Immigration Detention Archive

This archive includes a range of material culture produced by and about detention. It currently houses several thousand pages of bureaucratic documents and 30 letters, 3000 photographs, 400 drawings and over 70 other art works and materials gathered during fieldwork and art workshops. Items produced in detention can be interpreted in many ways and can contribute evidence to research on mental health, effects of uncertainty, trauma, reasons for migrating to England, colonial legacies, art therapy, roles of gender and race, language, bureaucracy, paternalism and abuses of power. These are expressed in self-portraiture, landscapes, fantasy and fiction, documentary photographs, poems, sculptures, letters, drawings of detention cells, sound recordings, videos, music CDs, detainee letters, life histories, cookbooks, copies of official regulations, and other documentation. In their physicality, these documents make real the detention experience, reminding us of the people working and living in these places (You can watch a short video about the archive made for University of Oxford Social Sciences Division). The archive is a digital and physical collection at Oxford that anyone can make an appointment to visit. The 10 minute film ‘Artists in Residence’ gives an introduction to the material in the archive.

Artists in Residence: Immigration Detention Archive

In May 2020, Mary Bosworth, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and Christoph Balzar published Bordered Lives: Immigration Detention Archive with Sternberg Press, drawing on material from the archive. In this video Mary and Khadija discuss the process of making the art book. The book is available for purchase from Sternberg Press here. It can also be downloaded under a Creative Commons License here, along with some other items from the Immigration Detention  Archive. An artist’s edition of the book is also available from Win Win Art  Agency and Gallery. All profits from the artist’s edition and additional art works related to the archive will be shared between AVID and Migrant Artists Mutual Aid.

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