Accepted Paper:

"The British Boy": articulating belonging in the face of deportation  

Author:

Melanie Griffiths (University of Birmingham)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on research with ‘deportable’ men and their citizen partners, I examine irregular male migrants’ articulations of claims to be ‘almost citizens’ in the face of increasing legal precarity, State counters to such claims, and the ensuing civic estrangements of the citizens close to these men.

Paper long abstract:

The British government is committed - both in rhetoric and resources - to increasing the rate at which non-citizens are deported. This comes after a decade of political and media hype regarding the expulsion of immigration offenders, refused asylum seekers and - particularly - foreign ex-prisoners. Contemporary folk devil categories, such as the 'illegal immigrant', 'bogus asylum seeker' and 'foreign criminal', suggest clear lines distinguishing between undesirable aliens and incontrovertible citizens. Although rarely the case, such lines are especially blurred when non-citizens can articulate claims to belong on the basis of blood, emotion or time. In the UK, and justified as closing a loophole exploited by criminals, considerable political effort has been expended in negating such 'democratic' grounds to belonging, including by dramatically raising the threshold before which Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights can challenge deportation decisions. This paper draws on qualitative research with couples and families consisting of irregular male migrants and British citizens, as well as observation of deportation appeals and other immigration hearings. It explores how these 'deportable' men seek to articulate identities as 'almost citizens', in the face of diminishing legitimate legal bases by which to do so, and how this is countered by State emphases of alterity and wickedness. The paper also explores the civic estrangement of the Britons close to these men, and how governmental attempts to deport their partner or child's parent, result in these women renegotiating their own sense of belonging and the meaning of citizenship itself.

Panel P101
Political subjectivities in the face of displacement: claiming rights, belonging, and social citizenship [ANTHROMOB]