Ana Ballesteros Pena

photo of Ana Ballesteros Pena
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Tel: TBA


Ana Ballesteros Pena is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto, Canada & ECRIM Research Group, Faculty of Law, University of A Coruña, Spain). Her current research analyzes immigration detention in Canada and Spain. She also holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Barcelona in Spain. Her PhD research examined female incarceration in the Spanish penitentiary system with specific focus on the analysis of prison policies implemented over the past decade. Ana holds a BA in Political Science and Public Administration (Complutense University of Madrid), an Expert’s Degree in Evaluation of Programs and Politics (Complutense University of Madrid), an MA in Participatory Research for Local Development (Complutense University of Madrid) and an MA in Gender and Equal Opportunities, in the specialty of feminist and gender research (Jaume I University, Castellón). She has been an Academic Visitor at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. She is member of Border Criminologies international network and Associate Researcher to the research team on Rights, Policy and Justice, RG2: Citizenship, Work and Technology, CICS.NOVA, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCSH-UNOVA).

Ongoing & Future Research

Research Interests

Punishment and social control, gender, migration control, prisons and immigration detention, critical and feminist criminology.

SupervisorProfessor Kelly Hannah-Moffat

Ana’s postdoctoral research project GOVERNMIGRATION Governing irregular immigration through detention: discourses and practices from an interdisciplinary approach uses two case studies: Spain and Canada to analyze how the governance of irregular migrants and asylum seekers occurs in two complementary ways. First, at the level of discourse, this research will assess how irregular migration has been represented in the political process by focusing on how immigration detention has emerged as a response to this issue. Second, the project will examine the impact of detention in those released and supervised in the community. This study will also focus on how different actors participant in the governance of migrants and how gender, race and nationality influence this process. Theoretically, this research builds on the governmentality and border control scholarship. Policy analysis and interviews are the primary methods of data collection. This study builds on existing scholarship and will provide a comprehensive and comparative analysis of irregular immigration and detention that can inform various types of immigration policy.


Contemporary practices and models of female imprisonment in Spain: Gender equality policies or new strategies of control of incarcerated women? analyzes state penitentiary policy directed at women prisoners within the framework of equality initiatives promoted in Spain since the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. In particular, the thesis explores the implementation of a new intervention programme, entitled Respect Module (from herein, RM), in the facilities and women’s sections. The thesis has corroborated that the penitentiary system continues to be influenced by the main characteristics of a patriarchal and androcentric culture which permeates its practices, discourses and dynamics at all levels, and which measures, intended to drive gender equality, do not manage to eliminate. In doing so, the research has revealed how the promotion of gender neutral programmes, like RM, leads to even stricter discipline, and to inadequate attention given to the needs of incarcerated women. Furthermore, in the analysis of values, discourses and practices of the RMs, the features of new forms of punishment come up and linked this model with elements of the neoliberal penal governance, such as responsibilization. The way they interact with traditional practices of punishment of women leads to reinforce discipline, control and obedience, whilst drawing on stereotypes of gender, race and nationality. However, despite the power imbalance between the penitentiary institution and the women prisoners, the latter continue to exercise expressions of resistance that frequently rest on a reconceptualization of the characteristics associated with normative femininity imposed.