Dr Deirdre Conlon


Deirdre Conlon is lecturer in critical human geography.  Her work engages the tensions around migration and policies and practices designed to manage immigration. This includes a focus on immigration detention, border enforcement, and local, everyday enforcement practices where carceral spaces proliferate; critical engagement with legal and governmental frameworks that gird citizenship and immigration; and examination of the everyday material and social consequences of ‘fortessing’ and ‘securitization’ as well as activism and advocacy aimed at contesting the inequalities and injustices that coincide with these policies and practices. 

Conlon’s work is typically collaborative and frequently multi-sited, with projects in the US, UK, and the Republic of Ireland. With an interdisciplinary background in environmental psychology, Deirdre Conlon's interests, teaching, and approach in research not only draw from critical human geography but also from feminist studies, urban studies, anthropology, and sociology. She is part of a network of critical immigration and carceral geography scholars.* Deirdre is especially interested in supporting projects that engage communities and publics in participatory ways. 

*For more information see: http://asylum-network.com and http://carceralgeography.com

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More on research:

Conlon’s work spans critical human geography with interests in:

i) The governance of citizenship and belonging through immigration enforcement, detention, and border securitization strategies.

ii) The social, cultural, and economic politics of global and local immigration enforcement policies and practices and the tensions, inequalities, and actions that arise in lives and communities confronted with such initiatives.

iii) The proliferation of carceral spaces of everyday life including spaces where (im)mobility, protracted waiting, and production of abjection abound.

iv) The contestations, recuperative and transformative possibilities, which are immanent with the policies, practices, and spaces detailed above.


Internal Material Economies of Migrant Detention (2013 – ongoing)

Dr. Deirdre Conlon (Leeds) with Dr. Nancy Hiemstra (Stonybrook, NY) (co-investigators). 

This project examines the conditions under which internal economies of exchange develop and operate within migrant detention facilities. The project investigates the social, political and economic implications of demand among detained migrants for material goods such as phone cards, toiletries, and supplemental food items and provision of as well as ‘labour’ opportunities available in exchange for these goods. Initially focused on detention centres in the metro New York/New Jersey area, a larger multi-site project is planned.

Research Matchmaking: Linking the demand and supply of research with migrants (2013-2014)

Dr. Deirdre Conlon (Leeds), Dr. Nick Gill (Exeter) (co-investigators), ESRC Knowledge Exchange Grant

This project aims to develop the online architecture—specifically, a website and online forum for the exchange of ‘haves’ and ‘needs’ to connect the research needs of those in the migrant support community with the skills and interests of migration researchers. The site will also provide resources aimed at facilitating and navigating collaborative and participatory engagement practices.

Latino/a Engagement in Education Project (2012 –2013)

Deirdre Conlon (Saint Peter’s University, NJ), Professor David Surrey (Saint Peter’s University) (codirectors), William E. Simon Foundation ($50,000)

This ongoing community-focused project worked with community and religious organisations and local schools in Jersey City, New Jersey to facilitate Latino/a parent’s involvement in their middle and high school-aged student education; tasks included community outreach, development and implementation of workshops, seminars and ESL classes for parents and a mentoring program for Jersey City Latino/a youth.

Making asylum seekers legible and visible: An analysis of the dilemmas and mitigating strategies of asylum advocacy organisations in the UK and US (2010-2012)

Co-investigator with Dr. Nick Gill (Exeter) and Dr. Imogen Tyler (Lancaster), ESRC Small Grant £99,000 FEC

This cross national US/UK research project charted the challenges and successes of community, non-profit organizations engaged in supporting asylum seekers and migrants held in detention centres. See the project website here asylum-network.com/ and view the final report here.

Among her publications is a collection of international research and scholarship titled

Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention’ (2013, Ashgate), co-edited with Dominique Moran (Birmingham) and Nick Gill (Exeter). For a review see Antipode Aug. 2013.

Conlon is also working as guest editor (with Nick Gill) on a forthcoming special issue on ‘Migration and Activism’ for ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies

GEOG 2055: Citizenship and Identity: Comparative Perspectives (convenor)

GEOG3055: Geographies of Encounter

GEOG1310: People, Place and Politics

GEOG2040: Inside European Cities

GEOG2070: Research Methods


Ph.D. Environmental Psychology –The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Graduate Certificate Women’s Studies – The Graduate Center, City University of New York      

M.A. Psychology - Hunter College, City University of New York  

B.A. (Hons) Psychology - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Professional memberships/other details

Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI)

Co-founder Asylum-Network (http://asylum-network.com)

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship