Assistant Professor

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519-888-4567 x 46648

PhD Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies (University of Toronto) 

MA Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies (University of Toronto)

BA (Simon Fraser University)


Faculty member, Balsillie School for International Affairs, and Co-lead of the Migration, Mobilities, and Social Politics Research Cluster

Research, teaching, and supervision areas

  • Border criminology
  • Immigration detention and deportation
  • Punishment, parole, and re-entry
  • Postcolonial, antiracist, and feminist thought
  • Critical border and migration studies
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Criminology and sociolegal studies 

Current Research

My current research focuses on two main areas: (1) immigration detention and deportation; and (2) punishment. I am interested in how race, gender, and other intersecting social relations of power shape migration control and penality, and how the control of borders and practices of punishment overlap.

I am completing a research project examining immigration detention and deportation in the United Kingdom (UK) that is based on ethnographic research at four immigration removal centres in the UK along with follow-up research with detained individuals who were released and/or deported. I am writing up this research as a book, tentatively titled Migration Penality: Detention and Deportation in Postcolonial Britain (Routledge). I am also starting a three-year SSHRC-funded study, Reforming Detention: Race, Gender, and Nation in the National Immigration Detention Framework. Using a Foucauldian genealogical approach, this project explores detention reform processes in Canada, looking critically at the National Immigration Detention Framework as a contemporary practice of (penal) reform.

An overlapping project that considers both punishment and immigration detention is the Prison Transparency Project, a collaborative study focusing on issues of carceral transparency and accountability. Initially funded through a three-year SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, we are now seeking a SSHRC Partnership Grant (directed by Prof Dawn Moore) to comparatively explore the cultures of transparency in Canada, Spain, and Argentina in relation to imprisonment and immigration detention.

I am also co-investigating (with Prof Laura Piacentini) the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on prisons in Canada and Scotland, focusing specifically on issues of systemic inequalities. This project, COVID-19 Justice as Penal Justice: Examining the Impacts of the Pandemic on Prisons in Canada and Scotland, is funded by a Strathclyde and Waterloo Joint Transatlantic Partnership Award.

Selected Publications


  • Turnbull, S. (2016) Parole in Canada: Gender and Diversity in the Federal System. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Book Chapters

  • Turnbull, S. (2021) Racial Innocence, Liberal Reformism, and Immigration Detention: Toward a Politics of Abolition. In: K. Struthers Montford and C. Taylor (eds.) Building Abolition: Decarceration and Social Justice, 29-42. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Turnbull, S. (2019) The Uses and Limits of Photovoice in Research on Life After Immigration Detention and Deportation. In: M. Deflem and D.M.D. Silva (eds.) Methods of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research. Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance, Volume 24, 151-164. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
  • Turnbull, S. and Hasselberg, I. (2019) Foreign National Prisoners: Precarity and Deportability as Obstacles to Rehabilitation. In: P. Ugwudike, P. Raynor, F. McNeill, F. Taxman, C. Trotter, and H. Graham (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Rehabilitative Work in Criminal Justice, 800-811. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Balfour, G., Hannah-Moffat, K., and Turnbull, S. (2018) Planning for Precarity? Experiencing the Carceral Continuum of Imprisonment and Reentry. In: A. Sarat (ed.) After Imprisonment. Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Volume 77, 31-48. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
  • Turnbull, S. (2018) Making Sense of the Shifting ‘Field’: Ethical and Practical Considerations in Researching Life After Immigration Detention. In: A. Fili, S. Jahnsen, and R. Powell (eds.) Criminal Justice Research in an Era of Mass Mobility, 130-143. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Turnbull, S. (2018) Starting Again: Life After Deportation from the United Kingdom. In: S. Khosravi (ed.) After Deportation: Ethnographic Perspectives, 37-61. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bosworth, M., Hasselberg, I., and Turnbull, S. (2016) Imprisonment in a Global World: Rethinking Penal Power. In: Y. Jewkes, J. Bennett, and B. Crewe (eds.) Handbook on Prisons, Second Revised Edition, 698-711. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Bosworth, M. and Turnbull, S. (2015) Immigration Detention and the Expansion of Penal Power in the United Kingdom. In: K. Reiter and A. Koenig (eds.) Extreme Punishment: Comparative Studies in Detention, Incarceration and Solitary Confinement, 50-67. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bosworth, M. and Turnbull, S. (2014) Immigration Detention, Punishment, and the Criminalization of Migration. In: S. Pickering and J. Ham (eds.) The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration, 91-106. Abingdon: Routledge.

Journal articles

  • Dobson, R. and Turnbull, S. (2022) In or Against the State? Hospitality and Hostility in Homelessness Charities and Deportation Practice. International Journal of Law in Context 18(1): 25-40.
  • Turnbull, S. (2019) Living the Spectre of Forced Return: Negotiating Deportability in British Immigration Detention. Migration Studies 7(4): 513-532. 
  • Turnbull, S. (2017) Immigration Detention and the Racialized Governance of Illegality in the United Kingdom. Social Justice 44(1): 142-164.
  • Turnbull, S. (2017) Immigration Detention and Punishment. In: H.N. Pontell (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice [online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.013.231.
  • Turnbull, S. and Hasselberg, I. (2017) From Prison to Detention: The Carceral Trajectories of Foreign-national Prisoners in the United Kingdom. Punishment & Society 19(2): 135-154.
  • Turnbull, S. (2016) ‘Stuck in the Middle’: Waiting and Uncertainty in Immigration Detention. Time & Society 25(1): 61-79.
  • Turnbull, S. (2014) Aboriginalising the Parole Process: ‘Culturally Appropriate’ Adaptations and the Canadian Federal Parole System. Punishment & Society 16(4): 385-405.
  • Hannah-Moffat, K., Maurutto, P., and Turnbull, S. (2009) Negotiated Risk: Actuarial Illusions and Discretion in Probation. Canadian Journal of Law and Society 24(3): 391-409.
  • Turnbull, S. and Hannah-Moffat, K. (2009) Under These Conditions: Gender, Parole and the Governance of Reintegration. British Journal of Criminology 49(4): 532-551.


Research Grants

  • 2022-2025. Principal Investigator, Reforming Detention: Race, Gender, and Nation in the National Immigration Detention Framework, SSHRC Insight Grant [no. 435-2022-0306], CAD$85,685
  • 2022-2023. Principal Investigator (with L. Piacentini), COVID-19 Justice as Penal Justice: Examining the Impacts of the Pandemic on Prisons in Canada and Scotland, Strathclyde and Waterloo Joint Transatlantic Partnership Award, CAD$19,970 [+ £10,247]
  • 2018-2019: Principal Investigator, Visualising Immigration Detention and Deportation, Research Innovation Fund, Birkbeck College, University of London, £3,500
  • 2015-2018: Co-Investigator with D. Moore (Principal Investigator), G. Balfour, K. Hannah-Moffat, J. Martel, and D. Parkes, Prisons Transparency Project, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant [no. 890-2014-0034], $194,635
University of Waterloo

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