Bordered Lives:Immigration Detention Archive

A new book co-authored by a University of Birmingham researcher sheds light into the experience of an immigration detention centre.

Bordered Lives: Immigration Detention Archive written by Mary Bosworth, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and Christoph Balzar along with anonymous voices from detainees offers a glimpse inside custodial institutions which have been increasingly used throughout the world to deter irregular migration.

As the current health crisis has made clear, people within these kinds of places are particularly vulnerable. Yet, too often, their stories and experiences remain hidden from sight.

Bordered Lives: Immigration Detention Archive through first hand experiences looks at the vulnerability of those incarcerated through their drawings and testimonies of what home or their dreams for example look like.

The authors, who are from interdisciplinary backgrounds in art and criminology, present views of everyday life under this form of border control by offering a glimpse of life within these hidden sites.

Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll says: "This book introduces the Immigration Detention Archive and reflects on the conditions under which art is supposed to be produced in institutional spaces. Addressing the public as well as academics, activists, artists, and social scientists the book presents the effects of indeterminate detention, bureaucratic indifference and banality, on the subjectivity of the incarcerated through their experiences."


The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

About the author

Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll is an artist, professor and chair of Global Art at the University of Birmingham. Her practice explores how to intervene ethically and experimentally within institutions and sites of incarceration. She is the author of the books Art in the Time of Colony (2014); The Importance of Being Anachronistic (2016), and Botanical Drift: Protagonists of the Invasive Herbarium (2018). In 2015 -2016 she was artist in residence in Border Criminologies within the Oxford Law Faculty where she produced a series of works about immigration detention.

Her most recent artworks about her experience in these sites of incarceration have been shown at Nottingham Contemporary, the House Theatre Plymouth, Konzerttheater Bern, Pesta Boneka Festival Indonesia, Styrx Gallery, and Silver Sehnsucht. Her installations and performances have also been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, ICA London, the National Maritime Museum, Extracity, Sharjah Biennale, HKW, Marrakech Biennale, Savvy, LUX, Liquid Architecture, Chisenhale, SPACE, Project Art Centre Gallery Dublin, Casablanca Film Festival, and the Atlantic Project. She is an editor of Third Text journal.

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