Welcome back, Deirdre Conlon!

Deirdre Conlon, a graduate of the program, recently returned to share her new research with the department and to speak with current students about her experiences. A description of her talk is found below:

GC CUNY Critical Psychology Brown Bag Colloquium, Oct. 18th 2017


Reflections on Carceral Circuits and Spaces

Deirdre Conlon, Ph.D.

University of Leeds, School of Geography

Alumnus Environmental Psychology Program, Graduate Center, CUNY


This presentation outlines the trajectory and key themes of my research since completing my Ph.D. in the Environmental Psychology program. It then turns to a new project on ‘carceral space, private sector contracts, and questions related to legitimacy.’ I trace three empirical projects (my dissertation, which examined everyday productions of nationhood (and exclusion) among refugee/migrant women in post-birthright citizenship referendum Ireland; a UK/U.S. comparison of challenges and mitigating strategies developed by migrant support and activist groups facing increasing social and political hostility and fiscal austerity toward migrants (with Nick Gill, Exeter); and an ongoing project (with Nancy Hiemstra, Stony Brook University) that extends critical research on the privatization of immigrant detention by examining the internal micro-economies and dynamics that sustain and expand detention as a key facet of immigration enforcement in the U.S. today. I call attention to key and recurring themes in this work that continues to be inspired by classes, conversations, and exchanges during my graduate studies at the Graduate Center: attention to fine grained details and the everyday effects of immigration policies, and from this careful cataloguing of the myriad harms and forms that dispossessions take in these spaces (following Fine and Ruglis, 2009); a meta-critique of institutions, in this case immigration detention / prisons and the mundane enforcement practices and protocols that are normalized in their name; and, in terms of research practice, the significance of collaborative spaces/process in my work, an ethos and orientation to scholarship and research that the Graduate Center’s Environmental Psychology program fosters and supports. The presentation ends with a number of preliminary observations related to the aforementioned new project. These include: exceedingly careful attention to the production of a ‘continuous carceral space’ when prisoners/immigrants are transferred and where public and private actors overlap in providing (contracted) custodial ‘services’; questions about who is the audience for claims related to legitimacy; and prisoners’ and immigrants’ experiences of these flexible and fluid spaces of confinement. The presentation ends with a series of questions for discussion, in keeping with the ethos of the Critical Psychology Brown Bag colloquium.



Fine, M. and Ruglis, J. 2009. Circuits and consequences of dispossession: the racialized realignment of the public sphere for U.S. youth. Transforming Anthropology 17(1), pp. 20-33.



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