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Migrant Surveillance and State Power: Electronic Tagging of Asylum-Seekers in the UK



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Ranjan, Devika 


While the electronic tagging of asylum-seekers is often considered a humane alternative to detention, it is actually a tactic of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ that deeply constricts an individual’s physical, psychological, and social freedom. This study focuses on the experiences of asylum-seekers who have been electronically tagged— their struggles and their methods of resistance.

The electronic tag administers a mandatory curfew on asylum-seekers, administered by a ‘crimmigration apparatus’ that is made up of the Home Office and its (in)security contractors. The apparatus neglects asylum-seekers and their cases through bureaucratic loopholes, lack of accountability, enforced paranoia, and dehumanization. Within the community, asylum-seekers are unable to work, volunteer, or participate in civil society because of the tag. Yet despite the psychological trauma and physical restrictions, electronically tagged asylum-seekers fight against this socio-political oppression through everyday and extraordinary acts.

As the Home Office continues to expand the detention estate and issue new contracts to corporations, asylum-seekers are increasingly endangered by the propensity of further surveillance, privatized abuse, and restricted civil liberties.





Desai, Manali


asylum-seekers, refugees, Home Office, UK, G4S, security, surveillance, technology, state power, biopolitics, criminology, electronic tag, ankle bracelet, immigration, criminalization, crimmigration, hostile environment, security contractors, (in)security, bureaucracy


Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Marshall Scholarship