Dissertation Abstracts

Constructing the Immigrant Threat in Postcolonial Britain: Securitisation, Racialisation, and the (Re)invention of ‘Britishness’

Author: Iva Dodevska, dodevska.iva@gmail.com
Department: ICRL
University: University Paul Valery Montpellier 3, France
Supervisor: Jean-Cristophe Mayer (UPVM); Sona Novakova (CU); Bojan Savic (Kent).
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: coloniality , immigration regime , bordering , racialisation
Areas of Research: Migration , Language and Society , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


Broadly speaking, my project seeks to contribute to the scholarship occupied with the study of the racialisation of bodies constructed as non-white in postcolonial Europe. In this sense, it is situated within the critical literature investigating the nexus between migration and race. Using Britain as a case study, I seek to understand the interrelation between governing immigration, nation-building and the construction of racial difference. I focus on securitisation and politicisation of migration as two important newly arisen phenomena – provoked by postcolonial migration to Britain – in which this interrelation is most pronounced. More specifically, I investigate the coloniality (Quijano 2000) of certain manifestations of what I call the total bordering apparatus (in a Foucauldian sense) of post-Empire Britain. This term refers to ‘the system of relations’ between ‘discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions’ (Foucault 1980, 194), which constructs and governs the boundaries between human groups. It is a total apparatus, because it refers not only to the establishment and management of external – physical, material, territorial – borders between sovereign nation states, but also of internal – ideological, cultural, socio-psychological, discursive, categorising – boundaries between people. Therefore, it refers as much to those discourses and practices which concern the ‘self’, as to those that concern the ‘other’; but what I am particularly interested in is the relationship between these two, or the points at which they intersect in the form of joint practices within the bordering apparatus. In yet other words, I am interested in the ways the bordering of the ‘other’ melts into the boundary-making of the ‘self’ and vice versa, how the one feeds into the other, their interdependence, and how they serve each other’s purposes. To this end, my study necessarily has to be limited to two central manifestations of the bordering apparatus: the immigration regime and the citizenship regime. In fact, especially in the case of twentieth century Britain, the question of immigration and the question of citizenship (‘nationality’) have always been treated as inseparable issues, both in legislation and in public debates, as illustrated in titles of laws such as British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act (1914) or Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act (2002), or the existence of a single institution to govern both (Home Office). My topic, thus, lies at the intersection of three epistemic fields: the governance of migration, the politics of nationhood and the construction of racial difference. It is a genealogy of a sort of the British bordering apparatus and of the production of the racialised immigrant, who replaced the racialised colonial subject as the necessary ‘other’ in the British national imaginary.