Biography

Francesca recently completed her PhD in community psychology at the ISPA-University Institute of Lisbon and is currently a British Academy Newton International Fellow at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on immigration detention in Italy, Portugal and the UK, and, in particular, on the everyday life and the lived experiences of women confined inside detention sites. Based on her work, she authored a number blogposts and papers in international book/journals. Francesca is also a member of the feminist NGO BeFree (Rome, Italy), and she worked several years as an advocate for women survivors of gendered violence, including migrant women confined inside Rome’s migration-related detention center.

 

Publications

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  • F Esposito, Jose Ornelas, Erica Briozzo and Caterina Arcidiacono, 'Ecology of Sites of Confinement: Everyday Life in a Detention Center for Illegalized Non‐citizens' (2019) 63 American Journal of Community Psychology
    Drawing on almost 3 years of fieldwork, comprising qualitative interviews and ethnographic observations, this study provides an exploration into the detention of illegalized non‐citizens in Italy. Taking the largest detention center as a case study, the fabric of everyday life and the lived experiences of people, both detainees and professional actors, are the focus of examination. An ecological community psychology framework, with a focus on justice, guided the data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Findings highlight the oppressive qualities of detention, and its ripple effects on people's life spaces. Scarcity of resources, activities, and information created a very distressing environment for detainees, also enhancing feelings of powerlessness and frustration in professionals willing to assist them. Uncertainty and instability, rather than coercion or discipline, emerged as modes of governing and dominating. Bound in a different space and time, detainees were turned into unwanted and expendable others, their confinement becoming a means to extract profit from them. Yet, people languishing in these sites displayed an extraordinary ability to cope with, resist, and challenge the persisting conditions of injustice they endured. We conclude by highlighting the potential of the proposed framework, and discussing broader implications of our findings and avenues for research and action.
  • F Esposito, Jose Ornelas, Silvia Scirocchi and Caterina Arcidiacono, 'Voices from the Inside: Lived Experiences of Women Confined in a Detention Center' (2019) 44 Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 403
    Drawing on two years of fieldwork, this article focuses on the lived experiences of women detained inside Rome’s Identification and Expulsion Center, the main migration-related detention facility in Italy. We employed a thematic narrative analysis to examine the narratives of five women with different life trajectories in order to identify continuities and discontinuities within and across their stories. This analysis reveals that women’s experiences of oppression and agency—in their countries of origin, transit, and settlement—are deeply intertwined and strongly influenced by structural forces. Gender and sexuality, in relation to other hierarchies of power such as class, race, and nationality, profoundly shape such experiences, becoming crucial in the production of women as excludable and deportable subjects. Further, as the accounts of our participants lay bare, the immigration control system appears to play a key role in the (re)production of a dominant normative order. However, women are not passive spectators of the violence to which they are forcibly exposed. Rather, they struggle to cope with and resist the regimes of power that oppress their everyday lives. Through a feminist stance, this contribution seeks to enrich the body of scholarship on the lived experiences of women subject to practices of immigration and border control, particularly those confined in detention centers. Moreover, it highlights the need for a feminist project based on the creation of political and affective alliances across borders and axes of difference, particularly those related to legally produced statuses.

Research projects