Time in the Shelter: Asylum, Destitution and Legal Uncertainty

Time in the Shelter: Asylum, Destitution and Legal Uncertainty

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27 May 2019 from 4.10 pm - 5.00 pm 27 May 2019 4:10 pm 27 May 2019 5:00 pm

Political Science and International Relations Programme Research Seminar

Speaker:  Dr. Mark Justin Rainey, University of Melbourne 

Venue: Murphy (MY) 531 

All Welcome, no RSVP needed!

Abstract: When Theresa May, then UK Home Secretary, publicly announced her plan to create a ‘hostile policy environment’ towards so-called ‘illegal migrants’ in 2012, she also took aim at what she termed ‘impromptu’ shelters or ‘beds in sheds’ that provided informal support to vulnerable migrants. (The Telegraph, 2012) This ethnographic talk focuses on the day-to-day experiences of refused, male asylum seekers living in a network of informal, emergency night shelters located in churches across Greater Manchester, UK. Without the right to work and with No Recourse to Public Funds, many refused asylum seekers are pushed into dependency on charitable support and live under threat of arrest, detention and/or deportation. This enforced destitution manifests itself in long periods of restlessness and waiting. Waiting is both the mundane experience of seeing out each day waiting for the shelters to open and close while simultaneously being caught up in the vicious and antagonistic processes of the UK asylum system and border enforcement. In this respect, ‘waiting’ can be understood as a form of ‘weaponised time’ (Power, 2014) in which the state continues to punish individuals that it has formally abandoned. Drawing on interviews, conversations and research alongside refused asylum seekers living in these night shelters, I argue that life in the shelters is shaped by constant legal and social uncertainty, while at the same time ‘mobile solidarities’ (Squire, 2011) are formed between refused asylum seekers and local communities.

Speaker's bio: Mark Justin Rainey is a Visiting Academic at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and School of SHAPS, The University of Melbourne. In early 2017 he completed a Ph.D. at the University of London on a joint research project between the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths and the School of Geography, Queen Mary. This research was a theoretically informed ethnographic work alongside refused, male asylum seekers in Manchester, UK. Following his Ph.D. he worked as an activist in Manchester and founded and co-chaired the Migration and Destitution Action Group. He has recently been commissioned to publish a monograph with Manchester University Press.