Shams
in Bordering intimacy

Chapter 3 demonstrates how the colonial politics of family and borders is adapted and resuscitated in contemporary Britain. It traces debates around sham marriage to explore how ideas of ‘genuine’ family and ‘subsisting’ relationships are coded with racial difference. In doing this, the chapter explores how colonial racism has adapted through the emergence of the ‘hostile environment’ and the Global War on Terror to make Muslim communities and other racialised populations a source of suspect intimacies. Appeals to modern liberal ‘love’ are used to present black, Asian and Muslim communities as ‘backwards’ and bound to underdeveloped forms of kinship (i.e. as undomesticated). Whilst existing studies of sham marriage focus on how borders and immigration policies work to exclude racialised migrants, this chapter analyses how border practices such as family migration visas connect up with the policing of settled communities. This is often arranged around attempts to save at-risk/risky ‘unintegrated’ women. Examples include forced marriages strategies, or in the move to monitor Muslim family patterns as part of the detection of radicalisation in the counter-terrorism programme Prevent. I call such interventions ‘intimate borders’.

Bordering intimacy

Postcolonial governance and the policing of family

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