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Open AccessArticle

Subterranean Detention and Sanctuary from below: Canada’s Carceral Geographies

Department of Geography, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
Department of Political Science, McMaster University, Main Street, Hamilton, ON L8M 3L1, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(11), 310;
Received: 7 February 2019 / Revised: 7 June 2019 / Accepted: 9 June 2019 / Published: 12 November 2019
This paper begins with an account of Lucía Vega Jimenez, a Mexican woman who lived and worked in Metro Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories (Canada) and who died while held in detention in British Columbia’s Immigration Holding Centre. This article argues that Lucía’s story exposes a number of critical aspects regarding the geographies and politics of migration in Canada today. First, Lucia’s story points to the ways in which Canada’s determination process invisibilises certain forms of violence and, as such, serves as a highly restrictive and exclusionary mechanism. Second, it shows how this exclusionary mechanism extends like ‘capillaries’ throughout urban space. In this context city services (like transit) increasingly become less spaces of refuge, and more privatized border checkpoints. Third, following Lucia’s story reveals how city checkpoints funnel people with precarious status into remote detention, akin to Foucault’s ‘carceral archipelago.’ While expanding on carceral literature, this paper departs from existing scholarship that tends to think about remoteness horizontally. The paper argues that it is below the surface where carceral regimes become particularly hostile and—as such—the paper calls for deepened engagement with questions of verticality. Finally, the article illustrates how subterranean carceral dimensions are being politicized, agonistically, through sanctuary practices. View Full-Text
Keywords: detention; precarious; sanctuary; gender; migration; subterranean detention; precarious; sanctuary; gender; migration; subterranean
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Bagelman, J.; Kovalchuk, S. Subterranean Detention and Sanctuary from below: Canada’s Carceral Geographies. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 310.

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