Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

A Failure to Measure: Evaluating the UK’s “Hostile Environment”  
Rine Vieth (McGill University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I explore how juxtaposing absurdity alongside agnotology helps elucidate how unpredictability, irrationality, and instability of state bureaucracies is a tool of b/ordering.

Paper long abstract:

What happens when a state’s humanitarian migration framework is based on a policy goal of making life as hard as possible for migrants? As the UK’s “hostile environment” policy approaches its tenth anniversary, I highlight how migrants—particularly asylum-seekers appealing an initial refusal—wrestle with unpredictability and absurdity, particularly while attempting to justify their claims to humanitarian status. Drawing on a year of fieldwork in the UK, as well as several years of legal and policy research, I argue that contestations of the UK immigration regimes frequently rely of depictions of “absurdity,” farcical processes that seek to render visible the deliberate uncertainty that has become state policy. These framings extend outward into jokes that permeate migrants’ interpersonal interactions, and demonstrate a refusal to fall into nihilistic pessimism. Further, I contend that an anthropological consideration of absurdity alongside agnotology—the study of deliberate ignorance—may shed light on how states exert power through rendering invisible data about marginalized populations. This additional consideration can help consider absurdity, in the context of migration, as a tool the state uses in processes of b/ordering.

Panel P063a
States of the absurd I
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -