We are proud to announce the winners of the second Border Criminologies Masters Dissertation/Thesis Prize. Competition was very strong this year so we have one winner and two runner-ups. The winner and the runner ups will receive £200 and £100 worth of Routledge books.

Border Criminologies seeks to support early career researchers working on the intersections between border control and criminal justice. From a strong shortlist of 8 entries, the competition panel, consisting of academics from the Border Criminologies Network identified the following winners:

Maria Hagan, winner, University of Amsterdam, Disassembling the camp: The politics of policing exiles in Calais, France. You can read the dissertation here

Since the demolition of the infamous Calais Jungle in October 2016, the French state has hardened its policies against informal exile encampments. A complex institutional system of official processing centres has been established, marking a shift towards greater control of exiles present in France informally. These centres have become non-negotiable ‘humanitarian’ spaces, and as such, legitimise the violent policing of exiles beyond the official system. This is most visible in Calais, where hundreds of exiles have continued to settle in the border zone in scattered encampments known as ‘jungles’, which the Police systematically seek to destroy. By undermining the establishment of material camps, the Police therefore enforce exile nomadism, and undermine their human rights.
Drawing on five months of ethnographic fieldwork in Calais in 2017-18, this thesis reveals how the disassembling and reassembling of the informal camp space play out in practice. It is an important contribution because although there has been rich debate on the ‘space of the camp’ among urban geographers in recent years, these have often taken the materiality of a camp space for granted. This thesis draws on assemblage theory and binary processes of ‘smoothing’ and ‘striating’ space to describe strategies by which informal camps in Calais are disassembled by the Police, and how these practices are challenged by exiles and grassroots humanitarians who strive to reassemble camps. To capture this dynamic, I propose and elaborate on the concept of the ‘contingent camp’ which looks at the camp not so much as a fixed place as an activity and process. It is the space inhabited by exiles but denied material consolidation – the space in a constant state of becoming and unbecoming.
This thesis contributes to important discussions about the right to the camp in an innovative way. Building on ground-level observation and analysis, it reveals how the emergence of contingent camp politics signals a transition from a humanitarian response to exiles to one driven by a logic of securitisation, in which structures of protection are turned on their head. This jeopardises relationships of trust between the exile and the state; a system that seeks to police and control inadvertently multiplies the number of people seeking autonomy and informal alternatives. More generally, this ground-level case study highlights deeply flawed contemporary policymaking in response to the ‘migrant crisis’, providing concrete illustrations of the effects of this falling away of the humanitarian logic in favour of securitisation.

Hallam Tuck, runner up, University of Oxford, Litigation by Attrition: Power, Order, and Capability in US Immigration Detention. You can read the dissertation here

Through a case study of Stewart Detention Center (SDC), this dissertation proposes the concept of ‘litigation by attrition’ to understand the operation of power within the system of immigration detention in the United States of America. SDC holds roughly 1,900 non-citizens in removal proceedings under the custody of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Although nominally managed by ICE, the day-to-day operation of the facility is contracted out to CoreCivic, a private prison corporation. Since opening in 2006, Stewart has gained national notoriety as an example of the harshness of the detention system. From 2007 to 2018,
96.7% of detainees from Stewart were ordered deported, contrasted with a national average of roughly 60%. Moreover, three detainees have died in controversial circumstances while detained at the facility since May 2017. How, then, can a process of exclusion so harsh be compatible with the established legal and political order of the liberal state? To address this question, this dissertation develops the concept of ‘litigation by attrition’, referring to a defined relationship between the legal process of removal and the carceral system
of immigration detention.
Niamh Quille, University of Oxford, The Windrush Generation in Britain’s ‘hostile environment’: racializing the crimmigration narrative. You can read the disseration here
The ‘Windrush’ generation of Caribbean migrants are among almost 600,000 Commonwealth migrants who arrived in the United Kingdom before 1971. Having lived and worked in Britain for most of their lives and having a legal right to British citizenship but sometimes lacking documentation to prove this, there is continued public outrage in 2018 in response to stories of detention, deportation, denial of services and loss of jobs which had occurred as a result of new immigration rules. Many argued that these hardships were a foreseeable result of Britain’s ‘hostile environment’. The scandal resulted in the resignation of the Home Secretary, but it remains to be seen what, if any, changes will be made to the laws and policies responsible. The experiences of the Windrush generation are worthy of analysis because of their position both as British citizens and visible minorities. Moreover, as the British Government makes plans for EU citizens who are present in the UK to apply for ‘settled status’ after Brexit, the construction of
citizenship and belonging are particularly salient.  This dissertation examines the role of ‘hostile environment’ policies in perpetuating Britain’s racialized law enforcement. In doing so, it contributes to the crimmigration field whilst providing a contemporary application of it’s analytical power.


Congratulations to the winners! We would like to thank all those who submitted their work and hope that they will contribute to the Border Criminologies blog.