What to Make Of (Border) Violence | 25th Annual Edwards Memorial Lecture

When and Where

Thursday, November 02, 2023 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Room CG 160
Canadiana Gallery, First floor
14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9


Professor Mary Bosworth, University of Oxford


CrimSL is pleased to welcome Professor Mary Bosworth of the University of Oxford to deliver the 25th Annual Edwards Memorial Lecture the afternoon of Thursday, November 2, 2023.


What to Make Of (Border) Violence

In this presentation, I will draw on material from a long-term, mixed-methods research project with staff in the UK deportation and short-term immigration detention system, to reflect on how criminologists and socio-legal scholars conceptualise, study, and understand institutional(ised) violence.  Notwithstanding extensive theorization of power and control, there has been surprisingly little scholarly engagement with actual use of force, or more bureaucratic coercive strategies. Instead, reflecting the liberal roots of the fields, most accounts, particularly in the UK, assume institutions are based on a negotiated settlement between the powerful and the powerless.  Border control draws some of these views into question. As I will show, from initial staff training in physical strategies and techniques of restraint, to the filing of ‘use of force’ reports, the private company and their public sector ‘client’ -- the UK Home Office – have created a detailed, administrative system of coercion and control, which not only acknowledges, but indeed invites, a certain amount of physical repression.  In concentrating on some of these examples, I will explore not only the nature and role of violence in border control, but also its effect on studying this system.  What are the ethical challenges of studying a violent system and its analytical effects? Can we ‘make sense’ of it, and should we even try?

About the speaker

head shot of Professor Mary Bosworth
Professor Mary Bosworth

Mary Bosworth is Professor of Criminology, and Fellow of St Cross College at the University of Oxford. In 2013, she founded the international research network and website Border Criminologies which brings together a wide range of scholars and practitioners working on the growing intersections between criminal justice and immigration control. Mary has published widely on immigration detention, deportation, punishment, race, and gender. She is currently writing a new monograph provisionally entitled Supply Chain Justice and the Logistics of British Border Control for Princeton University Press about deportation and short-term detention in the UK. Her research has been funded by The British Academy, the European Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and Oxford University’s John Fell Fund. Mary is UK Editor-in-Chief of Theoretical Criminology, co-editor of Routledge Studies in Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship, co-editor of Clarendon Studies in Criminology at Oxford University Press, and a member of the editorial boards of Race & Justice, Punishment & Society, Incarceration, and the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.


This is a free event, but space is limited and registration is required.

The lecture will be followed by a reception celebrating CrimSL's 60th anniversary.


The main entrance to the Canadiana Gallery is on Queen's Park Crescent West, directly across from the Ontario Legislature. (Google map)

By transit: The closest subway station is Queen's Park. Walk north on Queen's Park Crescent West.

By car: Curbside parking is no longer available on King's College Circle. The closest U of T parking lots are Lot C – Bahen Centre (213 Huron St.) or Lot P - Rotman School of Management (107 St. George St.). See U of T Transportation Services for complete details about parking on campus.

By ridehail or rideshare: Vehicles may access a drop-off area at the front of the building via Queen's Park Crescent West.

About the Edwards Memorial Lecture

The annual John Ll. J. Edwards Memorial Lecture is delivered in honour of the Centre’s founder, Professor John Llewellyn Jones Edwards.

This event is presented by the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies and co-sponsored by Woodsworth College and the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto.


The Canadiana Gallery main entrance is served by a ramp and the entrance door features an automatic no-touch wave switch for door opening. The all-gender washroom on the main floor is accessible. The Criminology Library is accessible by vertical lift. 

If you have any access needs, or if there are any ways we can support your full participation in this event, please email crimsl.communications@utoronto.ca and we will be glad to work with you to make the appropriate arrangements.

Contact Information


Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies,Woodsworth College,Faculty of Law


14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9