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ESRC PhD studentship: Technical Justice: Examining Video-Linking in Immigration Courts


College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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Dr N Gill No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Exeter is pleased to offer a PhD studentship funded by the ESRC for entry in 2013/14. Successful applicants will be based within Geography (Streatham Campus, Exeter) at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter.

Video-linking was introduced in 2008 in the UK to allow for speedier determination of asylum appeals, as well as bail hearings for asylum seekers held in detention. According to the Ministry of Justice, video-linking works as follows: “If you are detained it may be possible that your case will be heard by video link. This means that you will remain in your place of detention and give any evidence that you have to give by video link. You will be able to see and hear the hearing room and all the parties on a television where you are detained, and everyone in the hearing room will be able to see and hear you on a television there” (Ministry of Justice webpage, October 2011).

The use of video-linking is justified partly in terms of the time saved: judges, representatives and applicants do not have to travel as far. There have been, however, a series of concerns raised by asylum support groups about the use of video-linking in courts including concerns relating to the adequacy of this form of presence in the courtroom.

This is a fully funded PhD position to run alongside the ESRC project ‘Examining Geographic Disparities in Asylum Appeal Success Rates at Different Hearing Centres Around the UK’. The PhD will explore video-linking in immigration courts from a variety of theoretical perspectives which might include, but are not limited to, socio-technical debates, mobilities, analyses of time, rhythmanalysis, virtuality, absences, synchronicity and simultaneity.

Practical questions that the student might explore include: how does video-linking impact upon the asylum appeal or bail hearing experience from the perspective of the applicant? How does video-linking impact upon the hearing from the perspective of others involved in the appeal process? What different experiences of asylum appeals via video-link do different types of applicant experience (e.g. by gender, nationality, age, language skill and case type)?

More conceptual questions might include: how can the case of video-linking within detention shed more light upon the relationship between virtuality and mobilities? How are different forms of presence distributed through the process of video-linking and what are the key political and social issues that arise as a result of this distribution? What are the implications of the virtualisation of legal processes?

The student will benefit from being part of a wider research team working on related issues, with input from a range of relevant charities and pressure groups. Alongside the standard thesis, the student will be expected to produce and widely disseminate a user-report of their findings.


Funding Notes

Candidates must have (or expect to complete by September 2013) a Masters degree in a social science or relevant discipline with appropriate research training. In addition candidates must have obtained a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a social science or relevant discipline. Applicants with either an academic or personal knowledge of immigration law (especially asylum law) will be at an advantage.

Value: Research Council stipend (currently £13,590pa) + UK/EU fees for those who meet the residency requirements outlined by the ESRC (see http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/funding-opportunities/looking-for-funding/eligibility.aspx).
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