On May 12 at Goldsmiths:
Migrant Cartographies: Cities, Circuits and Circulations
Cities are in part constituted in myriad enactments of migrant presence which generate urban dialectics of self-and-city composition. Cities also condense many of the challenges we face in migration in the generation and navigation of local circuits composed through forms of social provision, distributions of opportunities and social goods, labour markets and so on, making cities a crucial scale for the research and analysis of transnational migrant mobility. Circulations of transnational migrants within and between cities articulate other circulations – of money, objects and various forms of property – providing a challenge in thinking about the ways in which these circuits might be connected.
This symposium intends an interrogation of cities through the transnational mobilities co-composing them. It aims to develop a conversation among scholars of migration, mobility and urbanism reflecting on, developing and refining some of the conceptual categories we use in our research. It invites interrogation of transnational urbanism’s underlying logics and theoretical frameworks in concepts like circuit, migrant, city, mobility, migrant journeys, trajectories and circulations.
I recently spoke at this event at the Columbia Global Center in Paris:
Humanity at Sea Maritime Migration and the Foundations of International Law, 1945-2015
Below the fold, a video of the event. At some point I’ll post the text of what I said.
Photo: Roni Horn
This lecture will attempt to connect the dots between the current “refugee crisis” and several of its relevant historical precedents: actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese ‘boatpeople’, Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia. Through its engagement with history, the talk will outline a novel theory of human rights modelled around an encounter between individuals in which one of the parties is at great risk.
I am thrilled to have had a piece published in the brilliant new online magazine Wildcat Dispatches, entitled “Who is Allowed to be Human? ‘Bare Life’ in Aleppo and on the Mediterranean“. I wrote this very quickly and very angrily. It’s about the stripping of biographical life away from so many people in our world, drawing on Arendt and Agamben. Here’s the first section, which I entitled “The Musselmann” (readers of Primo Levi will know that is the term was used in the concentration camps to refer to the drowned, the walking dead).
In Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith describes watching a film of a boat full of refugees being bombed by a helicopter “somewhere in the Mediterranean”. A “middleaged woman who might have been a jewess” sits in the bow with a little boy in her arms, screaming and hiding his face in her chest; she covers him with her body “as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets off him”. The party members cheer as the boat explodes.
Writing in the aftermath of World War II, Orwell and his readers would have seen, on newsreels in the cinema, the harrowing images of barely alive survivors of liberated camps such as Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald; of groups of stateless ‘Displaced Persons‘ drifting across Europe for years after the war ended; of boats full of Jews in the Mediterranean denied ports because of the fear of contagion or that they might be carrying terrorists, or sunk by British forces to prevent them reaching Palestine.
These camps and boats are the images invoked by the philosopher Giorgio Agamben in his concept of “bare life”: zoological life denuded of humanity through the state’s violence. He drew on Hannah Arendt, who had herself experienced internment as a refugee and had written in 1958 that “The chief characteristic of [the] specifically human life […] is that it is itself always full of events which ultimately can be told as a story, establish a biography […] bios, as distinguished from mere zoé”. Eric Santner names zoé stripped of bios as “creaturely life”, when human life “assumes the cringed posture of the creature”.
In the last few years, we have seen many – far too many – examples of such violently imposed creaturely life. Globally, well over 7,000 migrants– maybe as many as 10,000– have died trying to cross borders in 2016, including nearly 5,000 in the Mediterranean. On the route from Libya to Italy, one migrant dies for every 47 that make it. We have grown used to seeing images of people crammed into boats, or bodies stranded on beaches, but we rarely hear their names.
In Syria, whence many of Europe’s refugees are fleeing, the government has besieged rebel communities for five years, using starvation as a form of warfare; residents have struggled to maintain a liveable, biographical life as barrel bombs fall from helicopters day and night. The UN long since gave up counting the dead – when the toll reached a quarter of a million in 2014. In the latest phase of the war, we have watched – or, more often, turned away from – families in an East Aleppo reduced to rubble, sleeping in the snow before being packed onto buses by their aggressors and transported to unknown destinations.
READ THE REST.
I strongly recommend you spend time with the rest of Wildcat Dispatches, including the Wildcat Statement on Aleppo, Sarah Keenan’s “Another Refugee Dies at the Hands of the Australian Government“, Emma Patchett “On forced evictions and a never-ending winter for the Roma in France“, Gavan Titley’s “Filter Bubble – When Scepticism of the Mainstream Media Becomes Denial of Atrocity” and Mark Boothroyd’s “Aleppo Falls, and Humanity Falls With It“.
Last year I invited to give evidence to Louise Casey’s review of integration policy for the government. The report of the review has now been published.
Although the evidence base presented in the report is quite strong, most of it does not come from academic research, but rather from thinktanks or other policy literature. Among the academic research that is used, however, is Gemma Catney’s important work on the geographies of integration and segregation, and Sundas Ali’s work on second and third generation Muslims in Britain.
There has been a lot of commentary on the review, much of it critical. Leah Bassel’s piece for DiscoverSociety is especially worth reading.
I wrote two small thinkpieces on it. The first was published by the Sociological Review blog, entitled “Absent Experts and Public Debates About Integration“, in which I challenge sloppy conceptualisations of “integration” itself as well as draw attention to the value of qualitative and especially ethnographic research on how communities live together. This piece was re-published by the LSE Religion and the Public Sphere blog too.
Secondly, David Feldman and I wrote something for the Birkbeck Comment blog, on the importance of highlighting social justice and disadvantage in the integration debate (a point we made in our Integration, Cohesion and Disadvantage report in 2014).
Ángeles Solanes Corella (ed.), Diversidad cultural y conflictos en la Unión Europea: Implicaciones jurídico-políticas (Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia: 2015, 1ª Edición; 2016, 2ª Edición).
Review by Javier García Medína (Universidad de Valladolid) in Cuadernos Electrónicos de Filosofía del Derecho No 34 (2016): Diciembre 2016, pp.320-324 [PDF]
La aportación desde la perspectiva inglesa la representa el trabajo de Ben Gidley, para quien ha de reelaborarse el concepto de integración en un sentido más multidimensional y multidireccional, si se quiere dar respuesta adecuada a la integración de los migrantes y de las minorías. Ello implicaría ransitar de la etnicidad hacia la clase social y desde el conflict de civilizaciones hacia cuestiones de justicia social. Por su parte Letizia Mancini se centra en la seguridad urbana en relación con el context italiano, cuestión central que no solo presenta la dimensión teórica sino su trascendencia y alcance en los aspectos sociales y políticos para la seguridad urbana y para la inmigración en la política italiana.
CEFD Número 34 (2016) | ISSN: 1138-9877 | DOI: 10.7203/CEFD.34.9416
When: 14 Sep 2016 – 18:30 – 20:30
Autograph ABP – Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA
Organised by Migrants Right Network.
Stories of arrival, belonging, struggle and longing that prompt us to reflect on what it takes to be an open and inclusive city, told by some of our favourite artists, writers and activists.
With the participation of:
- Alia Syed, experimental filmmaker and artist. Alia’s work proposes an ongoing investigation of the nature and role of language in intercultural communication, with a focus on borders and boundaries, translation and the trans-cultured self.
- Kavita Puri, Editor, BBC Our World. Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s award-winning series Three Pounds in My Pocket, that tells the stories of the pioneering migrants who came to Britain from the Indian subcontinent in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Anthony Lam, a photographic artist whose work examines and explores notions and (un)realities of boundaries and borders.
- Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, reporter and writer that exposes the impact of government policy on ordinary lives. Writer in residence Lacuna Magazine, shortlisted for the George Orwell Prize for Politcal Writing 2012 & 2015.
- Amina Gichinga, Music educator and community activist with Take Back the City, former City & East London Assembly Take Back our City candidate.
- Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychosocial Studies, University of Birbeck. Ben’s ethnographic research focuses on the question of how we live together with difference in urban settings.
- Inua Ellams, award winning poet, playwright and performer. Identity, displacement and destiny are recurring themes in his work.
There will be a drinks reception after the event to continue the conversation.
FREE. Register here
This wonderful event, organised by Lyndsey Stonebridge and Becky Taylor for the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism in association with the University of East Anglia, as part of the , is now available as a series of podcasts via Backdoor Publishing. The event is part of the Refugee History project based at UEA.
A new publication, March 2016:
Inter-group Relations and Migrant Integration in European Cities: Changing Neighbourhoods
This book presents a comparative analysis of intergroup relations and migrant integration at the neighbourhood level in Europe. Featuring a unique collection of portraits of urban relations between the majority population and immigrant minorities, it examines how relations are structured and evolve in different and increasingly diverse local societies. Inside, readers will find a coordinated set of ethnographic studies conducted in eleven neighbourhoods of five European cities: London, Barcelona, Budapest, Nuremberg, and Turin. The wide-ranging coverage encompasses post-industrial districts struggling to counter decline, vibrant super-diverse areas, and everything in between. Featuring highly contextualised, cross-disciplinary explorations presented within a solid comparative framework, this book considers such questions as: Why does the native-immigrant split become a tense boundary in some neighbourhoods of some European cities but not in others? To what extent are ethnically framed conflicts driven by site-specific factors or instead by broader, exogenous ones? How much does the structure of urban spaces count in fuelling inter-ethnic tensions and what can local policy communities do to prevent this? The answers it provides are based on a multi-layer approach which combines in-depth analysis of intergroup relations with a strong attention towards everyday categorization processes, media representations, and narratives on which local policies are based. Even though the relations between the majority and migrant minorities are a central topic, the volume also offers readers a broader perspective of social and urban transformation in contemporary urban settings. It provides insightful research on migration and urban studies as well as social dynamics that scholars and students around the world will find relevant. In addition, policy makers will find evidence-based and practically relevant lessons for the governance of increasingly diverse and mobile societies.
Ferruccio Pastore, Irene Ponzo
‘They’ve Got Their Wine Bars, We’ve Got Our Pubs’: Housing, Diversity and Community in Two South London Neighbourhoods
Ole Jensen, Ben Gidley
Rise and Resolution of Ethnic Conflicts in Nuremberg Neighbourhoods
Comfortably Invisible: The Life of Chinese Migrants Around ‘The Four Tigers Market’ in Budapest
Boglárka Szalai, Krisztina La-Torre
Inter-Group Perceptions and Representations in Two Barcelona Neighbourhoods: Poble Sec and Sagrada Família Compared
Ricard Morén-Alegret, Albert Mas, Dawid Wladyka
Turin in Transition: Shifting Boundaries in Two Post-Industrial Neighbourhoods
News Media and Immigration in the EU: Where and How the Local Dimension Matters
Boundaries, Barriers and Bridges: Comparative Findings from European Neighbourhoods
Ferruccio Pastore, Irene Ponzo
For anyone who wants to understand a critical issue of the early 21st century–the integration of immigrant minorities in European cities-this book is essential reading. In contrast to the all-too-common top-down view from the perspective of the national state, the authors provide us with essential ground-level insights from the daily round in urban neighborhoods. — Richard Alba, CUNY Graduate Center
This timely book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of migration in Europe. Its focus on the neglected areas of negotiation, boundary-making and social relationships in European neighbourhoods make it especially compelling. It deserves to be read closely by academics and policy-makers alike. — Richard Gale, Cardiff University
‘They’ve Got Their Wine Bars, We’ve Got Our Pubs’: Housing, Diversity and Community in Two South London Neighbourhoods Ole Jensen, Ben Gidley
This chapter explores how housing policies and the nature of housing stock have conditioned residential geographies and diversity patterns in two south London neighbourhoods, Bermondsey and Camberwell. The key drivers are policy changes to social housing allocation and the post-industrial reconfiguration of urban space expressed in processes of gentrification and the redevelopment of riverside docklands into expensive housing units. These developments have challenged existing narratives of community, but they have also shifted the focus of analytical enquiry towards emerging us-them divides based on class and generation. Within the context of diversity and social cohesion, both neighbourhoods are characterized by a comparatively unproblematic day-to-day muddling along with difference, but also a generally declining level of civic engagement and neighbourhood cohesion, expressed by a sense of ‘living together apart’. >>> Download PDF (254KB) >>> View Chapter
HOW TO CITE: Jensen, O. & Gidley, B. (2016) ‘They’ve Got Their Wine Bars, We’ve Got Our Pubs’: Housing, Diversity and Community in Two South London Neighbourhoods’, in Pastore, F. & Ponzo, I. (eds) Inter-group Relations and Migrant Integration in European Cities: Changing Neighbourhoods, Springer, pp. 19-38
This was published on the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies blog. Huge thanks to Margot and Chris for the interview and transcript.
In November 2015 Birkbeck University’s Dr Ben Gidley gave a lecture at CIRIS on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish diaspora communities in London. Here CIRIS research associates Margot Dazey and Chris Moses ask Gidley about the state of diasporic research, his own research on diaspora groups within London’s famously diverse East End, and the policy implications of such research.
CIRIS: Can you tell us about the main aims of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, as well as those of your specific project? Continue reading
A new article in The Impact of Diasporas: Markers of Identity, a special issue of Ethnic and Racil Studies produced by the Leverhulme diaspora programmes at Oxford and Leicester universities. The issue is edited by Joanna Storey and Iain Walker.
This article discusses the historical and geographical contexts of diasporic religious buildings in East London, revealing – contrary both to conventional narratives of immigrant integration, mobility, and succession and to identitarian understandings of belonging – that in such spaces and in the concrete devotional practices enacted in them, markers and boundaries of identity (ritual, spatial, and political) are contested, renegotiated, erased, and rewritten. It draws on a series of case-studies: Fieldgate Street Synagogue in its interrelationship with the East London Mosque; St Antony’s Catholic Church in Forest Gate where Hindus and Christians worship together; and the intertwined histories of Methodism and Anglicanism in Bow Road. Exploration of the intersections between ethnicity, religiosity, and class illuminates the ambiguity and instability of identity-formation and expression within East London’s diasporic faith spaces.
A new chapter
In: Religion in Diaspora: Cultures of Citizenship, edited by Sondra Hausner and Jane Garnett
Part of the series Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship pp 55-79
Historicising Diaspora Spaces: Performing Faith, Race, and Place in London’s East End
Nazneen Ahmed with Jane Garnett, Ben Gidley, Alana Harris, Michael Keith
From the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, there has been a prevailing tendency to orientalise the East End of London. The idioms have changed, but underlying distortions of perspective have remained, from ‘darkest London’ through myths of the Blitz to ‘the new East End’ (Dench et al., 2006; Gidley, 2000; Walkowitz, 1992). This orientalised east London has been framed through (and served as an icon for) two conventional narrative tropes in the history and social science of migration in Britain, one temporal and one spatial. Both narratives are embedded in often-unspoken assumptions about the exercise and practice of citizenship. In particular, east London histories privilege the trajectories of migrant minorities that arrive in London’s lower echelons and are rescued from the abyss through self-improvement and civic engagement. The stories of Huguenot refugees, the Jews of the East End, the Maltese, the Indians, and the Irish are all in some ways redemptively showcased as plot lines of model minority integration. This familiar chronological script is mapped onto an equally familiar cartography as migrants move up, move out of the ghetto and into the suburbs, and leave space for the next wave of settlement. In spatialised Chicago School geography, stories of invasion, succession, and neighbourhood change, as, in chronologies of ladder-climbing minorities, we tend to find cast lists that are relatively unblemished by the presence of traces of difference. The ethnic mosaic is the key metaphor here: it implies social worlds that pass each other by relatively untouched.
New publication, in Spanish:
Nuevo libro colectivo sobre diversidad cultural y conflictos en la UE
Tras un año de intenso trabajo, se acaba de publicar en la editorial Tirant lo Blanch el volumen colectivo Diversidad cultural y conflictos en la Unión Europea. Implicaciones jurídico-políticas, editado por Ángeles Solanes, profesora de Filosofía del Derecho en la Universidad de Valencia. El libro es el fruto de una colaboración entre nueve miembros del proyecto de investigación “Derechos humanos, sociedades multiculturales y conflictos” y de autores invitados procedentes de la Universidad de Nantes y la Universidad de Oxford. A lo largo de sus 286 páginas se examinan de forma crítica y rigurosa cuestiones de indudable trascendencia y actualidad como las políticas urbanas en las ciudades globalizadas de Europa, los conflictos normativos en el ámbito familiar, las formas de violencia vinculadas a la diversidad y el papel del cine como instrumento para el conocimiento del otro. También se reflexiona sobre la importancia de los derechos humanos como guía de acción y mecanismo vertebrador de un pluralismo inclusivo, alejado de la estigmatización y criminalización de la diferencia.
Para consultar el índice y realizar la compra del libro, pinche aquí.
Ben Gidley: Conflicto y convivencia en los barrios urbanos diversos de Europa: reintroducir los derechos humanos y la justicia social en el debate sobre la integración, pp.31-44.
My chapter is based mainly on the projects Concordia Discors and Global Migration and the Future of the City. Here is the opening section in English: Continue reading
Caroline Oliver has written a COMPAS blogpost on the Action for Inclusion in Europe project we are working on. Here is the opening:
You’ve had to deal with 30,000 refugees?….in the region?’
‘No…in the city’
This was how a ‘getting-to-know-you’ conversation began two weeks ago, as six senior officials responsible for migrants’ educational achievement at city or municipal level arrived in Hamburg for a new COMPAS initiative. We were meeting at one of a series of short but intensive action-oriented meetings, aimed at bringing together city officials working on migrant parental involvement in young people’s education, in order to develop plans for tangible reform in their policy or practice.
This activity is part of a wider body of new work at COMPAS, the Action for Inclusion in Europe Initiative, funded by the Open Society Initiative for Europe. In early October, we began with an Autumn Academy, for a five day residential workshop that brought together 19 policy officers and practitioners from European city authorities, an International Governmental Organisation and NGO. All were working in various capacities on migrant integration.
Over recent weeks, other thematic working groups were held that engaged senior officials working on migrant homelessness and civic participation, as well as last week’s event on migrant parental engagement in schools. The events have reached 35 participants from 26 European cities, including representatives from Antwerp, Aarhus, Birmingham, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Ghent, Glasgow, Hamburg, Helsinki, London, Rotterdam, Torino and Vienna among others.
So what were we doing? The process has been guided by a broad principle of ‘knowledge exchange’ central to the work of the new arm of COMPAS, the Global Exchange in Migration and Diversity. This knowledge exchange involves COMPAS researchers or associates (including myself, Ben Gidley, Jonathan Price and Sarah Spencer). Throughout the events, we offer insights from academic research, frame key themes and debates in the topics of the working groups and facilitate city participants to collectively consider their experiences in practice.
READ THE REST.
The Oxford Diasporas Programme (and its sibling Leverhulme diaspora programme, based at Leicester) celebrated its fifth birthday at the Royal Geographical Society in September. A photo gallery is here, including two nice photos of me here and here.
The event launched our collection Diasporas Reimagined: Spaces, Practices and Belonging, edited by Nando Sigona, Alan Gamlen. Giulia Liberatore and Hélène Neveu Kringelbach. The book can be downloaded here, including my chapter, “Cultures of translation: East London, diaspora space and an imagined cosmopolitan tradition”, here.
All of my COMPAS blogposts, which I have featured on this website, have now been migrated to the new COMPAS website and archived in one place. Here they are, with links to the new permanent url:
I was one of many signatories of this letter, published yesterday in the New Statesman. Thank you to Rob Ford and Maria Sobolewska for writing it. Continue reading
Here are most of the reports I published during my six years at COMPAS:
Ben Gidley and Ole Jensen
Ben Gidley and David Feldman (eds.)
Ben Gidley, Emma Newcombe and Rob McNeil
Ben Gidley, Ole Jensen, Irene Ponzo, Emanuela Roman, Francesco Tarantino, Ferruccio Pastore
Ben Gidley, Maria Luisa Caputo
Ben Gidley, Elizabeth Collett
Ben Gidley, Elizabeth Collett
Ben Gidley, Hiranthi Jayaweera and Ole Jensen
Ben Gidley and Hiranthi Jayaweera
Ben Gidley, Hiranthi Jayaweera and Ole Jensen
Ben Gidley and Hiranthi Jayaweera
Ben Gidley and Mette Louise Berg
I helped provide the UK data to MIPEX
, the Migrant Integration Policy Index, published this month. The UK findings are here
Here is some of the coverage of the UK findings. The first three pieces are by me.
The UK tumbles out of top ten in key immigration ranking
Jul 1, 2015
After five years of coalition government, the impact of tighter controls on immigration is beginning to register. In a global index of how committed countries are to integrating legal migrants, the UK has dropped out of the top 10. [By me. Original at The Conversation.]
It’s time to put integration back on the agenda
Jun 30, 2015
Since the introduction of the concept by then-Labour home secretary Roy Jenkins in the mid-1960s, integration has never been a priority for UK governments. [By me. Original at Left Foot Forward.]
An evidence base for a rights-based approach to migrant integration policy
June 16, 2015
As we continue to see high migration numbers, is cutting integration wise? The new MIPEX findings raise the question of how much integration should be prioritised as UK slips in the international tables. [By me. Original at MRN Migration Pulse
Drawing heavily on the article I wrote for La Vanguardia earlier this year, El Correo columnist Javier Muñoz has written a piece on online extremism which quotes me extensively. Here are some extracts.
Ningún país escapa al goteo de jóvenes que un día abandonan la delincuencia, dejan de fumar porros o mandan los estudios y el trabajo a paseo para luchar por el califato en Mesopotamia. Un profesor de la Universidad de Oxford, Ben Gidley, se fijó en uno de esos individuos; una chica criada en el barrio londinense de Lewisham que se marchó a Siria durante el verano de 2014, cuando las cancillerías europeas empezaron a tomarse en serio al Ejército Islámico. Gidley se interesó en el caso porque él reside en Lewinsham, un lugar en su opinión anodino. Revisó lo que la yihadista escribió en Twitter mientras su cuenta se mantuvo activa y lo primero que comprobó es que el perfil era la foto de un niño con un fusil.
Los tuits estaban impregnados de una violencia extrema. La muchacha aseguraba haber visto cómo se esclavizaba a mujeres yazidíes (herejes según los yihadistas) y cómo se decapitaba a prisioneros. Buscaba enlaces para contemplar el asesinato de un periodista británico en la web y expresaba el deseo de ser la primera combatiente del Reino Unido en matar con sus propias manos a un cautivo occidental.
Con relatos como ése, dice Ben Gidley, se pone en cuestión el modelo británico de integración de los inmigrantes basado en el multiculturalismo. Sin embargo, a su modo de ver, los hechos desmienten esa teoría. “En realidad -escribe el docente en un artículo publicado en La Vanguardia Dossier-, los reclutas británicos que han viajado recientemente a Siria para luchar con el Estado Islámico presentan a menudo un alto nivel educativo y unas trayectorias profesionales de éxito”.
Gidley duda de que la chica de Lewinsham pueda ser catalogada como una musulmana no integrada. Se educó en una sociedad libre, se topó con los “comportamientos patriarcales de los ancianos de su mezquita” y se sintió “aburrida por la vida londinense”. Conocía la jerga de las redes sociales, hablaba de tiendas, del tiempo y de su círculo de amigos.
El Reino Unido ha contabilizado más de 700 yihadistas locales, un colectivo que, según el primer ministro, David Cameron, ha surgido por la pasividad de la comunidad musulmana. Sin embargo, su ex ministra Sayeed Warsi, abogada de origen pakistaní y miembro de la Cámara de los Lores (dimitió del Gobierno conservador en 2014 por su política en el conflicto palestino), no está de acuerdo. Admite que las familias y los clérigos musulmanes pueden hacer más, pero se queja de que se responsabilice a estos últimos de la atracción que la violencia despierta en ciertos jóvenes, un fenómeno que recuerda los magnicidios de algunos anarquistas de finales del XIX y comienzos del XX.
Asesinato de Sissi emperatriz
My June COMPAS blogpost was on safeguarding children from destitution. The original is here. This is an extract.
The legal framework that governs how a child in Britain with migrant parents can access welfare rights is incredibly complex: on the one hand, a century of immigration and nationality legislation that has created a seemingly endless proliferation of statuses and entitlements short of those of full citizens; on the other hand, the sedimentation of case law, of European and UK legislation on the rights of children and families, and the heritage of a welfare system based on universal provision.
While public opinion deals in terms such as “illegal migrant” and “bogus asylum seeker”, for service providers working with migrant families, the categories are infinitely more complicated. An alphabet soup of acronyms and initials that specify who has rights to which benefits – NRPF, s17, ARE, ILR, LLR, DVR, and many more – spell out the formula by which a family may claim housing benefit or carers allowance, or not, and under which conditions. Navigating this complexity is left to local authorities, and specifically to the frontline workers (“street level bureaucrats”, as they are called in the research literature) tasked with granting or denying families access to the welfare state.
Researching the right to have rights
Understanding how this works in practice – how different categories of migrant families do or don’t access social rights – has been a key question for researchers at COMPAS for some time now. A series of projects have explored this for different groups. Undocumented Children in the UK, funded by Barrow Cadbury, explored experiences and everyday lives of irregular migrant children in the United Kingdom, including experiences of schooling and pathways to work. Service provision to irregular migrants in Europe, funded by the Open Society Foundations, explored the extent of, and rationales for, entitlements to service provision for migrants with irregular immigration status in EU countries, mapping entitlements to health and education for both children and adults with irregular migration status (see the blogpost by Sarah Spencer and Nicola Delvino on the Italian part of the research). An OSF-funded pilot study explored city-level responses to those without entitlement, focusing on Berlin and Madrid (see Jonathan Price’s blogpost here). Exploring Migration: Research and Drama in Schools used drama and the findings of the ‘Undocumented Migrant Children in the UK’ project to explore how school students understand issues around irregular migrants (see Ida Persson’s blogpost here). Continue reading