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Accepted Paper:

Love, hope and immigration precarity  
Melanie Griffiths (University of Birmingham)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws on research with UK-based families to explore the pursuit of happiness in the face of chronic legal uncertainty. Using interviews with ‘deportable’ migrants, it explores the transformative space of family life as mediated through the ongoing threat of immigration enforcement.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at the family lives of irregular migrants in the UK, to recognise the richness of life and production of hope in even in the most dire economic and legal circumstances. It draws on anthropological research with UK-based mixed-nationality families consisting of British citizens and irregular male migrants, to explore how people carve out private and personal lives in the shadow of chronic immigration battles and the ongoing threat of enforcement measures. It goes beyond reducing people’s lives to their migration cases and ‘spectacle’ of deportation, to look at how people live, love and produce futures despite the oppressive migration regimes around them. It focuses on two case studies to explore the pursuit of hope and happiness, including marriage plans and starting families.

As with the couples, however, the research cannot ignore the wider context of their lives. The paper recognises the extreme structural stresses and limitations produced by the UK’s immigration system and its restrictions, such as forced worklessness, no recourse to public funds, and the possibility (or reality) of immigration detention and forced removal. The paper unpicks the impact of these processes on people’s personal lives, family roles and gender dynamics, particularly in relation to mental health stresses, (un)employment and parenting. The paper also explores the ways people sought to transform, minimise or compartmentalise the difficulties caused by the immigration system, in order to go beyond the ‘suffering subject’ and produce family lives of hope and transformation.

Panel P003b
Beyond the 'Suffering Subject' in Migration Research II
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -