February 21 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Birkbeck College, Malet St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX, (Room TBA)
Les Back and Shamser Sinha, Goldsmiths University of London: The politics of waiting: Migration, dead time and freer life
Ben Gidley, Birkbeck University of London: Everyday racism and migration: Researching the material and affective impacts of xeno-racism
Ann Phoenix, Thomas Coram Research Unit UCL: Children, epistemic violence and migration
Chair: Floya Anthias, University of East London
Abstracts and biographical notes
Les Back and Shamser Sinha: The politics of waiting: Migration, dead time and freer life
This paper examines how understanding migration involves an appreciation of the experience of time in an unfolding life. The debate about belonging is so often coded around those who are seen to ‘really belong’ because they and their kin have put ‘time into’ society. Migrants by contrast are viewed as itinerant and passing through. Drawing on research conducted with thirty adult migrants in London over the past ten years we explore the politics of time in the context of the contemporary debate about migration. We argue that hierarchies of belonging are also accompanied by an ordering of the migrants’ relationship to time. We focus in particular on the experience of waiting as an existential straightjacket that restrains and comes to define life in the migrant city. Through the experiences of our participants we develop an analysis of the temporal-straight jackets or time traps that are produced within the immigration system. We show how participants in this study struggle to break free from these limitations through developing ‘vitalising strategies’ that help them move out of dead time and a future that is confined by a sense of their lives being ‘on hold’.
Les Back teaches sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work attempts to create a sensuous or live sociology committed to searching for new modes of sociological writing and representation. This approach is outlined in his book The Art of Listening (Berg 2007). He also writes journalism and has made documentary films. He has juts completed a book about the experience of young adult migrants in London with Shamser Sinha called Migrant City (published by Routledge later this year). This book is attempts a sociable sociology that re-design social observation so that participants not only observe their own lives but also become credited authors too.
Ben Gidley: Everyday racism and migration: Researching the material and affective impacts of xeno-racism
This paper explores how social scientists can understand the relationship between public policies and discourses on migration, public attitudes towards migrants and minorities, and everyday experiences of exclusion and conviviality, using the concept of “xeno-racism”, as developed by the late Ambalavaner Sivanandan. The paper will draw on fieldwork in inner South London, and focus in particular on what we can learn from psychosocial and ethnographic approaches.
Ben Gidley is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. Previously, he worked at the ESRC Centre for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared History? with James Renton. Continue reading