Gender, Vulnerability and Everyday Resistance in Immigration Detention: Women’s Experiences of Confinement in a Portuguese Detention Facility
This paper examines immigration detention by looking at women’s experiences of confinement in a Portuguese detention facility. The empirical data—comprising participant observations, informal conversations and interviews with detained women—are read through an intersectional lens. This approach illuminates constructions of gender and sexuality in their mutual and contextualised articulation with other power relations (e.g., processes of racialisation and ethnicisation stemming from colonial histories), as well as the reconfiguration of these constructions by women themselves. Doing so also focuses on the intertwinement between power and resistance in daily life in detention. The women we met did not passively accept their situation, but rather struggled to make sense of, navigate and challenge the detention system. To this effect, they deployed multiple forms of agency, which also passed through the rejection, acceptance and reappropriation of hegemonic gendered constructions and their use in strategic ways to negotiate their positions vis-a-vis the system.
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