I resist by complying with the conditions they set for me, right? The odd case of compliance turned into resistance.
Ines Hasselberg (ICS - University of Minho)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among foreign-national offenders facing deportation from the UK, this paper discusses whether compliance can be conceptualised as a strategy of resistance to a set of policies that research participants did not consider legitimate.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses whether compliance can be perceived as a strategy of resistance. To equate compliance to resistance is counter-intuitive. Resistance is generally equated precisely with non-compliance: with disobedience, defiance and contestation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among foreign-national offenders facing deportation from the UK, I show how compliance is perceived as a form of resistance to a set of policies that research participants did not consider legitimate. Policies of surveillance and control in the context of deportation are illegitimate in the eyes of foreign-national offenders, because they are seen as strategies to render their lives impossible to the point of acquiescence in leaving the country. By not giving into the pressure to leave, and enduring the 'limbo' that is placed on their lives, they resist both their deportation and the state's will to deport them. Furthermore, in complying with difficult conditions and heavy restrictions that the Home Office places upon them, they feel they are directly defying the Home Office while at the same time resisting the notion that their deportation is in the best interest of the public good. Labelling people's action as 'resistance' raises important questions. In the case in hand, are migrants resisting the dominant power, deportation policies, or simply their own deportation? And can such forms of action, in this instance compliance, be considered resistance in the first place? Drawing difference sets of literature on resistance, legitimacy and compliance these questions are discussed and given consideration.
Resistance and complicity