Unlike many of its neighbouring North European countries, Sweden has historically been reluctant to expand its use of immigration detention. Likewise, and similar to its use of prisons, it is a state that often favours architectural ‘softness’ in the structure and regime of detention. However, as this article contends, its reputation for hospitality and welfare is in contrast with the very existence of such spaces. Reflecting on interviews with detention custody officers and governors in two such centres, I demonstrate how ‘hard’ approaches to control are instead supplemented with dualistically ‘kind’ and coercive measures to obtain their ultimate agenda: the deportation of the unwanted immigrant Other. Considering the harms inherent to imprisonment, I argue that – although preferable to harsher conditions enacted by various other states – the negative impacts of confinement cannot be eradicated by ‘soft’ approaches, but rather require the eradication of border confinement itself.
- SPS Centre for the Study of Poverty and Social Justice
- Immigration Detention