Getting In, Getting Out and Getting Back: Conducting Long-Term Research in Immigration Detention Centres
S. Armstrong, J. Blaustein and A. Henry (Eds). Reflexivity and Criminal Justice: Intersections of Policy, Practice and Research. London: Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming
19 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2016
In this chapter we document challenges we face in conducting ongoing research on everyday life in immigration removal centres (IRCs) many of which relate to the highly contested nature of these sites. Immigration detention is frequently in the news, yet rarely the topic of independent academic scrutiny. The Home Office and the private companies who manage these sites of confinement hardly ever allow researchers into them, leaving most of those who write about such places dependent on NGOs, former detainees or evidence gleaned from conversations in the visits halls. We are the exception to the rule, having obtained and retained permission to enter IRCs to conduct independent academic research in 2009. In this chapter, drawing on interviews and field notes with and about staff, we explore some of the tensions inherent in maintaining a working relationship over a long period of time and in these complex research sites. Though aspects of our experience are specific to IRCs, some will apply to other, long-term research projects in custody.
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