Professor Nick Gill
Professor in Human Geography


Research interests

My research is concerned with issues of justice and injustice. I explore this theme through a geographical approach, especially in the context of border control, mobility and its confiscation, incarceration and the law. I believe in the effectiveness of multiple methodologies, and have employed interviews, ethnography, focus groups and quantitative analysis in my work.

There are currently three strands to my research

1. Border Control, Migration and Human Mobility

Border control is one of the most topical issues of the 21st century. My work questions the utility and feasibility of the contemporary configuration of international border controls (Gill, 2009, Refuge; Gill, 2016, Wiley-Blackwell). It examines the relation between mobility and forced migration (Gill et al, 2011, Mobilities), sets the current malaise surrounding border control into the broader context of tolerance and intolerance (Gill et al, 2012, Political Geography) and examines the tactics used to respond to militarised control practices around the world (Gill et al, 2014, Annals of the Association of American Geographers).

2. Carceral Practices and Spaces

The proliferation and diversification of carceral systems is a hallmark of contemporary Western society. They are increasingly big-business, increasingly divorced from commonsense notions of justice, and increasingly obscured and obfuscated (Gill, 2013; Moran, Gill and Conlon, 2013). This strand of research seeks to take account of the emerging and increasingly intricate circuitry of carceral establishments (Gill et al, 2017, Progress in Human Geography).

3. The State, Injustice and Justice Systems

I am pursuing my long standing interest in the state and state theory (Rodriguez-Pose and Gill, 2003, EPA; Rodriguez-Pose and Gill, 2004, Regional Studies: Gill, 2010, Progress in Human Geography) via an exploration of the difference geography makes to systems of justice (even, sometimes, when it shouldn't). This strand of research has a range of issues from observed biases in judicial behaviour (Gill et al, 2017, Socio-Legal Studies), the importance of ethnographic apporaches to legal system (Gill and Good, 2018, Asylum Determination in Europe; Ethnographic Perspectives, Palgrave) and the way ethically meaningful encounters are suspended in legally institutionalised contexts (Gill, Nothing Personal? 2016, Wiley-Blackwell).

Currently I am exploring issues of legal omnipresence and lawlessness, working with literature from legal geography and legal anthropology.

Research projects


  • 2016-2021 'Fair and Consistent Border Controls? A Critical, Multi-Methodological and Inter-Disciplinary Study of Asylum Adjudication in Europe' European Research Council Starter Grant (PI).
  • 2013-2014 'Research Matchmaking: Linking the Demand and Supply of Research with Migrants' Dr. Nick Gill (Exeter) (PI), Dr. Dierdre Conlon (Co-I), ESRC Knowledge Exchange Grant.
  • Three year project from 2013 ESRC standard grant Exploring Differences Between Asylum Appeal Hearing Centres in the UK £559 000 FEC (PI).Project website:
  • 2012-2014 ESRC Seminar Series 'Exploring Everyday Practice and Resistance in Immigration Detention'. Dr Nick Gill (Exeter) (PI), Prof Mary Bosworth (Oxford), Dr Imogen Tyler (Lancaster), Dr Dominique Moran (Birmingham), Dr Alex Hall (York, UK).
  • 2010 – 2012 ESRC Small Grant ‘Making Asylum Seekers Legible and Visible: An Analysis of the Dilemmas and Mitigating Strategies of Asylum Advocacy Organisations in the UK and US’, £99,000 FEC (PI). See the project website here and view the final report here.
  • 2009 Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster, Workshop Grant leading to Special Issue of Mobilities entitled ‘Mobility and Forced Migration’, £1,000 with Drs. Javier Caletrio and Vicky Mason.
  • 2008 – 2009  Nuffield Foundation Small Grant ‘Polish Migration to the UK: The Material Effects of Imagined Geographies’, £6,884 (PI).
  • 2007 Lancaster University Faculty of Science and Technology Research Grant ‘Polish Immigrants in the North West of England’, £1,000.
  • 2003 - 2007  1 + 3 ESRC Research Scholarship, £42,000.
  • 2001 Graduate Merit Award for outstanding degree performance, London School of Economics, £5,000.

Research networks

I have developed or taken part in a series of research networks and knowledge exchange partnerships, such as an ESRC-funded seminar series about immigration detention, the asylum-network that brings together a variety of scholars working on migration and asylum, and an international group of scholars interested in ethnographies of asylum determination.


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