Accepted paper:

Reconciling 'quiet' lives with public protest? An examination of the Glasgow Bajuni campaign's communicative strategies.


Emma Hill (Heriot Watt University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores ways in which the Glasgow Bajuni campaign seeks to publicly protest the disputed nationality cases of its asylum seeker members, whilst trying to reconcile its actions with its members’ privately-minded, ‘quiet’ culture. It looks at notions of ‘public’, ‘hybridity’ and language to do so.

Paper long abstract:

The Bajuni campaign is a campaign run by a small group of asylum seekers in Glasgow who have had their asylum applications refused on the grounds of disputed (Somali) nationality. The disputed nationality decision has left the Bajuni destitute and in limbo: refused asylum because the Home Office does not believe they are Somali, but unable to be 'returned' because they have no proven country of origin. The Bajuni group have reluctantly taken up the responsibility of campaigning in a last-ditch attempt to make their situation publicly 'visible' to apply pressure on Home Office practices. However, this heightened visibility has come with its own difficulties - both because it goes against the Bajuni's quiet cultural preferences, and because it attracts the 'wrong' type of attention from the Home Office. This paper examines the ways in which the Bajuni campaign has attempted to reconcile their cultural preference to remain a 'quiet', closed group with their need to publicly protest their treatment by the Home Office. Drawing on fieldwork, and making use of Squires (2002) theory of subaltern counterpublics, it explores the ways in which the Bajuni's habitual 'satellite' dynamic both challenges and is challenged by the campaign's need to go public. Having identified this tension, the paper will then critique notions of hybridity to explore ways in which the Bajuni use their campaign to simultaneously placate and appeal to their 'satellite' public, whilst making their wider public protest. The paper identifies the Bajuni's language-use as the site of this public/private cultural negotiation.

panel P21
Resistance and complicity