Post by Mary Bosworth, Director of Border Criminologies. Follow Mary on Twitter @MFBosworth.

In this final post before Border Criminologies takes its usual August hiatus, I would like to take the opportunity to look back over the academic year, and to map out some of our plans for the next one. 

2015/16 saw a number of exciting new developments for Border Criminologies. Around this time last year, work had already begun on the move from WordPress to the University of Oxford law faculty website. That process took a lot of effort from a range of permanent and contract staff including Steve Allen, Karen Eveleigh, Katie Light and Sarah Turnbull. Thank you.

While we continue to adjust to the new platform, being part of the faculty website has definitely raised our profile within the University, generating a number of local opportunities and invitations. I was particularly proud in June 2016, when Border Criminologies was awarded the 2016 OxTALENT award at the University of Oxford for outreach and public engagement. The project has also been profiled on the Social sciences division website and, under their auspices, a short film is currently being made about it.

The Border Criminologies Blog and Social Media

The blog is a particularly important feature of outreach, showcasing original research from around the world, first-hand accounts of border control, and book reviews. So far in 2016 it has been viewed more than 78,500 times, with more than 10,000 unique visitors per month. While the main viewers of the website are from the United Kingdom and the United States, Border Criminologies is also consulted from countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

This year we have continued with the themed weeks, covering a wide range of topics from (most recently) working with interpreters, to the anthropology of policing and masculinity in detention, to name just a few. In June we ran three weeks of posts on the work of our network members, in a series that demonstrated the vast range of scholarship in this burgeoning field of inquiry. Book reviews, initiated by Ines Hasselberg and Sarah Turnbull has also become a regular part of the blog, appearing most Fridays, and being cited on publishers’ websites.

While the blog remains the most visible part of the website, Border Criminologies is also very active on social media. We have over 4,750 followers on Twitter, 1,800 likes on Facebook, and more than 140 blog subscribers. We also have an additional private Border Criminologies Research Forum group on Facebook, which anyone can sign up to. These forms of social media have played an important role in driving traffic to the blog.

Funding Awards

As ever, we have all been rather busy.  In November, I received an award from the University of Oxford’s John Fell Fund to work with Alpa on a 15-month research project on policing migration that started on 1 January 2016. This research focuses on the changing nature of policing under conditions of mass mobility by conducting two case studies with (a) Thames Valley Police and (b) immigration case workers who determine whether to detain and deport. This project provides unique empirical material to better understand the relationship between criminal justice and immigration control. Key questions under examination include: What happens to the role, legitimacy, and nature of the police when they are asked to monitor migration matters? How do individual staff members do and perceive their jobs? What are some of the effects of the growing intersections between case workers and the police? How is information shared between the police and the Immigration Directorate and is this process meaningful and effective? (for more on this you can read Alpa’s post here).

Alpa and Dr Coretta Phillips (London School of Economics) were awarded a Small Grant from the British Academy for their project ‘Black, Asian and White Minority Ethnic Offending: Unravelling the Mechanisms at the Level of Agency, Structure and Culture’, the first study to explore the offending and non-offending trajectories of white minority ethnic young men. It uses life histories and visual methods to explore why young black Caribbean, black African, and mixed race men are more vulnerable to committing crime and being prosecuted than Pakistani and Bangladeshi men in the UK, despite being similarly socio-economically disadvantaged. Alpa has also been awarded a Knowledge-Exchange grant with colleagues from Oxford Brookes University to generate dialogues between civil society organisations, academics and practitioners on the policing of counter-terrorism.

While finally, in May 2016, I was awarded an ESRC–Impact Acceleration Accounts grant to host Dr Hindpal Singh Bhui (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons) as a knowledge exchange fellow at the Centre for Criminology. Hindpal will take up his post in August 2016, working part-time in Oxford, over a period of seven months. While he is with us he will collaborate with staff and students working on a range of issues related to detention. He, Mary and Ines will work together and with colleagues from elsewhere on understanding the work of National Preventive Mechanisms. There will be various outputs from this project which will be posted on the Border Criminologies Blog.

Publications

All members of Border Criminologies have been very productive this year. Ines, Mary, and Sarah edited a special issue of Criminology & Criminal Justice on foreign national prisoners, that came out in July 2016, while Ines and Sarah published books based on their doctoral research: Enduring Uncertainty: Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life and Parole in Canada: Gender and Diversity in the Federal System. Sarah and Ines also published an article drawing on their fieldwork in detention and prison, in Punishment & Society. Andriani was awarded a book contract with Routledge to co-edit a volume entitled Criminal Justice Research in an Era of Mass Mobility on the challenges of doing research on the intersections between criminal justice and immigration control. Other book chapters and articles by the Oxford team and wider Border Criminologies network are available on the SSRN Criminal Justice, Borders & Citizenship Research Paper Series hosted on the Border Criminologies website.

One of the most important publications I was involved in appeared in the Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons by the former Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw to which I contributed a literature review on the impact of detention on mental health, which appears as Appendix 5. Described in the Shaw review as ‘a study of the greatest significance’ (p. 14), the literature review ‘demonstrates incontrovertibly that detention in and of itself undermines welfare and contributes to vulnerability’ (p. 191).  Otherwise, I have edited a book with Carolyn Hoyle and Lucia Zedner on the Changing Contours of Criminal Justice, contributed a chapter on Border Criminology to the new edition of the Oxford Handbook of Criminology, and published an article with Blerina Kellezi on the ethical and emotional challenges of conducting fieldwork in detention.

Past Events and Future Plans

Border Criminologies continues to run workshops and seminars in Oxford, to which any of our members are always welcome to attend. In December 2015, we co-hosted (with Palgrave Macmillan) a book launch for Dr Jamie Bennett and in February 2016 we welcomed (together with the Refugee Studies Centre and the Refugee and Migration Law Discussion Group) Jerome Phelps, Director of Detention Action. In March, I was honoured to host Ana Aliverti’s British Academy-funded two day seminar on Criminal Justice Adjudication in an Age of Mass Migration, the papers for which are forthcoming in The New Criminal Law Review. It was a pleasure to see many of the Border Criminologies Network members at that time.

The following month, in May 2016, Dr Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll organised an event at the Ruskin School of Art on artists’ responses to incarceration, in which she and I discussed the immigration detention archive and she presented the first cut of a short film she has made using it. Then, in June 2016, Border Criminologies co-hosted (with COMPAS and the International Migration Institute) Dr Ruben Andersson from the LSE. A few days later I convened a knowledge exchange event on immigration detention staff for senior staff across the sector.

Looking forward, Border Criminologies has a number of events scheduled for the forthcoming year. In September 2016, we will host a two-day international workshop on race and migration control. Papers from this event will appear as an edited collection. In October we will co-host with the Oxford Human Rights Hub Prof. Marie Benedicte Dembour, and, in November, Dr Yolanda Vaszquez and Dr Maria Norris will speak. Emma Kaufman will return in the New Year to discuss her work on foreign national prisoner transfers in the USA and to work with me on a new book proposal, while Luke de Noronha will present on his research with Jamaican deportees. In February Hindpal will present on his work with HMIP.

We were very pleased this year to have a number of Network members visiting the Centre for Criminology, including Vanessa Barker, Ana Aliverti, and Ana Ballesteros. Next academic year Yolanda Vazquez will be with us for Michaelmas term, while Hindpal Bhui will be visiting until February 2017.

Finally, some goodbyes and some hellos

Two members of the Oxford-based team are moving on, Dr Sarah Turnbull to a lectureship in criminology at Birkbeck College in London and Dr Khadija Carroll to a Professorship in Global Art at theUniversity of Birmingham. We wish them both luck and thank them for all their hard work in Oxford. As one of the two postdocs funded by the ERC, Sarah has been with Border Criminologies since the start. She has played an important role in developing and sustaining the web presence and has published a series of papers drawing on her research. We wish her well in her teaching role. Thank you Sarah.

In her one-year, Khadija has done a lot, working with Andrew Roesch-Knapp in expanding, photographing and cataloguing the items in the immigration detention archive. She also ran a photography course in Colnbrook, teaching men how to use a variety of techniques. Khadija is in discussion with a few institutions about housing the material and she and I have started trying to analyse it from an interdisciplinary perspective. It has been invigorating working with an artist and art historian and I look forward to seeing her work develop.

In addition to Sarah and Khadija, we say goodbye to some of our wonderful students who helped out this year: Heather McRobie and Valerie King both assisted with the blog and social media, while Andrew Roesch-Knapp worked on the archive. Thank you all.

When we come back in September we will have a slightly new structure, with assigned roles to facilitate communication and work. While I remain the Director, Andriani Fili will take up the post of Managing Editor, Alpa Parmar will be the Events Manager and Ines Hasselberg the Book Review editor. We will be joined by Ana Aliverti, who is coming on board as an Associate Director for Law. Plans are, also, underway for other institutional partnerships with Leiden University and the research group of Maartje van der Woude.

Finally, it perhaps goes without saying that as British universities continue to adjust to the fallout from the Referendum decision to leave the EU, global partnerships and networks of the kind we have been fostering at Border Criminologies will become ever more important. As this will be the final year of my ERC Starter Grant and the Leverhulme International Network, both of which pay for staff and infrastructure on Border Criminologies, we are looking for replacement funds. The Centre for Criminology has launched an ambitious fundraising plan to create a Global Criminal Justice Hub. Border Criminologies would occupy an important part of that Hub. However, as with many aspects of the contemporary university, it all depends on funding! So, if anyone has any ideas about funding opportunities for such matters, please contact us.

I hope you all have a peaceful August, and I look forward to hearing about your work and sharing ours in the new year.

All the best,

Mary Bosworth

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style)

Bosworth, M. (2016) Border Criminologies: 2015/16 in Review. Available at: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2016/07/border (Accessed [date]).