About us

Who we are

Border Criminologies brings together academics, practitioners and those who have experienced border control from around the world. Showcasing original research from a range of perspectives, with an emphasis on visual resources and first-hand accounts we hope to better understand the effect of border control and to explore alternatives.

For a number of years, a core group of researchers at Border Criminologies, led by Mary Bosworth, have been conducting research on immigration detention. Research began in 2009, with an ethnographic project on everyday life inside British immigration removal centres, that was published in 2014 as Inside Immigration Detention. In 2010, Mary created the Measure of the Quality of Life in Detention (MQLD) Survey, which has been adopted for use also in Portugal and Italy, and has informed UK policy. This work continues with the assistance of Alice Gerlach from Oxford Brookes University. 

In 2013, Mary established the Immigration Detention Archive, for 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. The 10-minute film by Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll ‘Artists in Residence’ gives an introduction to the material in the archive. An art book with Khadija and graphic designer Christoph Balzar is due out soon with Sternberg Press.

In addition to this UK-based work, Mary has worked, together with Dr Hindpal Bhui, inspection team leader at HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) (who has helped develop human rights monitoring in  different parts of the world) and Andriani Fili on two ESRC IAA knowledge exchange projects to investigate the conditions in immigration detention and the nature of human-rights based detention monitoring. In the first project, the research group focused on the structure and history of the National Preventive Mechanisms, in four countries affected by large scale migration, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Hungary. As part of the second phase of these projects, which sought to work with policymakers and practitioners in Greece and Turkey to understand the processes and challenges of monitoring human rights, how to overcome them and what resources are needed for effective monitoring practices, they organised a series of knowledge exchange and capacity building visits.

In March 2019, a larger research group, including Dr Francesca Esposito, began a new two-year project, funded by the Open Societies Foundation (OSF) began, on the role of civil society organisations in supporting detainees, in Italy and Greece. Designed to assist civil society organisations who are trying to safeguard human rights, this project will provide much-needed narratives to challenge the growing xenophobia that is corroding political discourse and practice. The project will help ensure that what happens in detention is not hidden from scrutiny, that detainees' experiences are heard, and that human rights defenders are given information and support.

Our Advisory Board 

Jean-Sébastien Blanc, Association for the Prevention of Torture

Giuseppe Campesi, Associate Professor of Law and Society, University of Bari 

Victoria Canning, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Bristol and Associate Director of Border Criminologies 

Giulia Fabini, Research Fellow, Criminology, University of Bologna

Michael Flynn, Executive Director, Global Detention Project

Ali McGinley, Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees

Katerina Rozakou, Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens 

Our aims

Starting with material gathered from and about Greece and Italy this project aims to visualise what goes on in detention centres in order to increase public access to knowledge about immigration and the treatment of immigrants in detention settings. Eventually other countries will be added. This countermapping project presents a variety of forms of evidence including videography, photography, original art, oral history, and testimonies from those directly affected. The material disseminated through this platform draws on a large set of data obtained over different time periods and under a range of diverse projects and long-term engagement with civil society organisations. It is specifically designed to offer a platform to civil society organisations, solidarity groups, (ex) detainees and the public to communicate their experiences from detention.   

The map shows the locations of facilities where irregular detainees may be detained in both Greece and Italy. Clicking on a node, you can see the name of the centre; click again and you will be directed to the centre’s page where an array of information will be provided including images, video and audio (where applicable), academic work, human rights organisations’ reports, policy briefs and other published material. We hope that in time, the material we provide will be enriched by original contributions from people in the field and those who have survived the centres. Items can be added easily through the button ‘add information to this location’ found at the bottom of each individual page. Contributors will remain anonymous if they wish and they can add either text, document, video or audio files. This is a collaborative project, designed to give organisations and groups already in detention an avenue for publicising their findings and disseminating them to a wider audience which is not limited to their national contexts but reaches out globally.

We hope this initiative will challenge attempts by the Greek and Italian states to invisibilise and spatially isolate immigrants, while supporting local partners who are engaged in advocacy and strategic litigation, e.g. through factual investigation, research and analysis. We believe that this project can provoke critical witnessing. This map depicts Italy and Greece as they are experienced and shaped by migrants’ presence and their struggles. 

Contact us

Border Criminologies

Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford 

St Cross Building, St Cross Road

Oxford, UK


Email: bordercrim@law.ox.ac.uk

Twitter: @BorderCrim

Facebook: @BorderCriminologies