The racialisation of asylum in provincial England: class, place and whiteness

Garner, Steve (2013). The racialisation of asylum in provincial England: class, place and whiteness. Identities: global studies in culture and power, 20(5) pp. 503–521.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1070289X.2013.827577

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/107028...

Abstract

This article examines the discursive racialisation of asylum-seekers by residents of Portishead, a small English town, a process demonstrating a classed and placed set of expressions of whiteness. I study the racialisation of a diverse group of people from the bottom-up, through an analysis of residents’ letters of objection to the Government’s request for planning permission to turn a building into an asylum processing centre in 2004. Three registers of language are presented: ‘technocratic’, ‘resentful’ and ‘conjectural’. Racialisation is expressed through shared ideas about the type of space in Portishead, and the type of people appropriate for it. The space is constructed as white and middle-class: the asylum-seekers are produced discursively as neither and therefore as not belonging. I suggest that the phenomenon of relatively powerful groups constructing themselves as weak and beleaguered can be conceptualised as a form of ‘defensive engagement’.

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