States of precarity: Negotiating home(s) beyond detention
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In the second quarter of 2013, 7,944 people were detained in the UK ‘for the purposes of immigration control’ (Home Office, 2013). While 1,138 of those detained were women, major shortcomings are identified in their treatment and calls made for a more gender sensitive asylum system. Although 35% of these women went on to be released there is a lack of research that investigates the on-going legacy of detention and the consequences for the sense of belonging, social integration and wellbeing of ex-detainees. This thesis draws on in-depth narrative interviews with 16 migrant women in the UK who were detained and then released from UK Immigration Removal Centres and five charity workers. Within migration scholarship the paradigm of exclusion has been traditionally adopted to understand how states seek to protect borders, keeping unwanted individuals out or contained. A spatial examination of respondents’ critical geographies of home reveals however that despite their release from detention these women continued to negotiate multiple and fluctuating boundaries. It is argued therefore that this paradigm obscures a nuanced perspective and proposes instead a discourse of precarity. Not only can the ‘state of precarity’ implicit within narratives of detention seep into and define the everyday geographies of home beyond release, respondents’ everyday negotiations with home remained central to the construction and proliferation of everyday precarity. This is achieved through a home-infused geopolitical rhetoric and interventions in the name of immigration enforcement which were revealed through (in)secure spaces of home. An exploration of emotional and embodied geographies also exposes erosive implications for feelings of belonging and health and wellbeing. A discourse of precarity therefore allows for a differentiation and critical inquiry of subjective gendered positions, citizenship and importantly, emergent accounts of resilience, reworking and resistance on predominantly social trajectories.
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