The embodiment of and resistance to deportability among Jamaicans in the UK
Anna Waldstein (University of Kent)
Dennis Francis (University of Kent)
Paper short abstract:
The UK's hostile environment toward immigrants is having particularly distressing impacts on the Jamaican diaspora. This paper focuses on how deportability is embodied by Jamaican men in London and the spiritual coping strategies they developed as a response.
Paper long abstract:
The UK's hostile environment toward immigrants is having particularly distressing impacts on the Jamaican diaspora, including individuals with criminal records, those who have overstayed visas and those who are entitled to permanent settlement (or even citizenship) but have lost the documentation to very this. Deportability leads to the risk of developing mental and physical heath issues due to increased stress and anxiety. This paper focuses on how deportability is embodied in the Jamaican diaspora and the spiritual coping strategies that are developed as a response. It draws on fieldwork in London, including interviews with 10 Jamaican men who were appealing or had successfully appealed deportation orders. For Jamaican men in London, successfully appealing a deportation order requires financial resources to cover legal fees and the ability to withstand long periods of unemployment. Men expressed anxieties about their children suffering from hunger, and described their own experiences of depression and isolation. However, avoiding displays of suffering (which requires vigilant attention to appearance and manners) was an important part of building the social and financial capital required to survive deportability. Jamaican men found the discipline required to survive through spirituality and engaged in a variety of bodily rituals to generate positive energies, which helped them remain calm and healthy. However, it was less clear whether spiritual coping strategies were being passed on to their children. This case suggests that while some coping strategies can ease the burdens of deportability for migrants themselves, those burdens may still be passed on to their families.Download the full paper
Settling in hostile environments: the effects of deportability on migrants and their families