Infrastructures of Empire: Mapping Spatial Violence in Detention and Deportation

Lead Research Organisation: Goldsmiths College
Department Name: Visual Cultures


This practice-based PhD addresses the spatial violence of Britain's border network through architectural praxis. It will map the origin, evolution, and function of the dispersed border as an instrument of control during the Yarl's Wood Hunger Strike in February 2018. Using film based media and situated testimonies, the research will document and reveal the effects of border violence on the migrant body, visualising the multiple spatial dimensions of the border regime through digital modelling and mapping.
The foundational role of Britain's colonial legacy is laid bare through the construction of its network of exclusion. The thesis aims to show how increased border controls and anti-migrant rhetoric are producing neo-colonial infrastructures such as the indefinite detention and secret deportations of individuals due to their perceived nationality, exposing how Britain's border regime inflicts racial violence and lasting oppression in our communities.
My research will chronicle and document what happened over the month of the strike, what kind of events took place and what this reveals about Britain's border regime. Through encapsulating the affective dimensions and spatial characteristics of the events, I aim to map the patterns of violence and control in order to make visible what is tactically hidden.
The purpose of my research is to expose how border spaces constitute an interrelated network of violence perpetrated through the built environment and multiple spatial legalities.
First, the research locates the hunger strike within the U.K. border regime, tracing its architectural genealogy and colonial origin. Second, the modelling and mapping of the hunger strike and its multiple components is created through situated testimonies and interviews.
My research will therefore focus on the following key questions:

1. In what ways can a critical spatial analysis of the detention and deportation system serve to expose its neo colonial infrastructure?
2. What are the limits of visualisation in revealing the entwined relationship between the British carceral state and the deportation regime?
3. How can we mobilise the histories of anti-colonial prison resistance in order to create solidarity infrastructures?


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