Open Access (free)

Go home?

The politics of immigration controversies

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

In July 2013, the UK government arranged for a van to drive through parts of London carrying the message ‘In the UK illegally? GO HOME or face arrest.’ The vans were short-lived, but they were part of an ongoing trend in government-sponsored communication designed to demonstrate control and toughness around immigration. This book explores the effects of such performances of toughness: on policy, on public debate, on pro-migrant and anti-racist activism, and on the everyday lives of people in Britain. This book both presents research findings, and provides insights into the practice of conducting research on such a charged and sensitive topic.

Blending original research, theoretical analysis, and methodological reflections, the book addresses questions such as:

  • Who gets to decide who ‘belongs’?
  • How do anti-migrant sentiments relate to changing forms of racism?
  • Are new divisions, and new solidarities, emerging in the light of current immigration politics?


Written in a clear and engaging style, the book sets an agenda for a model of collaborative research between researchers, activists, and people on the ground.

Open Access (free)

Living Research Three

Migration research and the media

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

This section reflects on the politics, ethics, and practicalities of communicating academic research on migration through and with mainstream media channels.

Open Access (free)

Living Research One

Why are we doing this? Public sociology and public life

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

A researcher and a community activist discuss ways in which academic researchers worked with community organisations on researching the impact of Home Office immigration campaigns, the difference this collaboration has made, and some of the challenges such work presents.

Open Access (free)

Conclusion

‘Ordinary’ people and immigration politics

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

This concluding chapter brings together the key themes from our research and raises questions about the developing politics of immigration control at the critical and fastchanging moment in which we complete this book.

Open Access (free)

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

This chapter draws on the framework of performance politics proposed by the political scientist Shirin Rai (2014). It discusses Operation Vaken as part of a deployment of theatricalised violence by the British state in recent decades in which performances of state power are directed at many audiences and serve to segment the population. Despite attempts to address a diversity of audiences, our research suggests that immigration policing communications and performances appear to be met with indifference or anxiety. They can also be re-interpreted through a popular cynicism that is influenced by a broader culture of anti-politics. The chapter explores the impact of such scepticism on the politics of migration, and asks whether there are possibilities for a politics based on mutuality.

Open Access (free)

Living Research Two

Emotions and research

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

This section critically reflects on the role of emotions in fieldwork, particularly when researching ‘sensitive subjects’ that have serious implications for both research participants and the researcher. Using examples from our own research practice, particularly in focus groups, we consider the ethics of research in a broad sense, including the effects on researchers, research partners, and participants of both conducting research, and the choices made in the process of researching.

Open Access (free)

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

The focus of this chapter is on how the politicisation of immigration policy in the UK tests the limits of liberal governmentality. Typically, this form of government is understood in terms of splitting questions of 'politics' from those of 'expertise', employing statistics, professions, economics, audits and so on, to insulate certain issues as matters of 'fact' or 'efficiency'. By engaging with policy makers’ accounts of the negotiations they make, we explore the strains that immigration control places on liberal governmentality, with its desire to separate technical decisions from politics, and the challenge posed by post-liberal approaches which emphasise morality and distinctions between deserving and undeserving subjects.

Open Access (free)

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

This chapter shows how local histories of migration and activism impact on how immigration enforcement campaigns are experienced and interpreted. For example, it discusses how opposition to Go Home posters in Glasgow fed into debates about Scottish Independence and how the Go Home vans’ appearance in West London played into divisive discourses of respectability among more established migrants and British citizens. The chapter argues that it is vital to consider specific sites of immigration intervention and resistance (e.g. the hospital waiting room, Twitter) and how local and urban contexts shape and are shaped by reaction and resistance when examining the impact of anti-immigration campaigns.

Open Access (free)

Living Research Five

Public anger in research (and social media)

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

This section addresses ways in which our research was informed by, used, and studied, social media technologies – namely Twitter – in our research on the effects of government anti-immigration campaigns. It also discusses the relationship of anger (and humour) to both activist research and broader social activism, drawing partly on the work of Audre Lorde to suggest that anger can be a productive and motivating force.

Open Access (free)

Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson and Roiyah Saltus

An afterword by Kiri Kankhwende, freelance journalist and commentator on immigration and politics and a member of Media Diversified.