Panel 8 – Racialisation, racism and migration – PSH314

The racialization of Syrian forced migrants in Turkey – Dr Dogus Simsek, Koc Univesity

This paper focuses on the process of racialization in the case of Syrian forced migrants in Turkey and examines the role of historical, ethnic and religious links between the Syrian forced migrants and the local people in the racialization process. Since the crisis in Syria began, Turkey has adopted an “open door” policy for Syrians fleeing their country; the state’s discourse towards Syrian forced migrants has been welcoming to some extent. The receiving society, on the other hand, tends to racialize Syrian forced migrants in everyday life. One of the research questions is whether the racialization of migrants occurs in the societal level even though the state’s discourse is welcoming migrants. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in eight different cities of Turkey, I explore the racialization of Syrian forced migrants by focusing on their everyday lives and the perceptions of local people about Syrian forced migrants. I argue that the racialization of migrants also occur outside of the state discourse, independent from the state. This study will contribute to the literature on racialization of migrants by focusing on the Syrian forced migrants in Turkey (non- European context). Therefore findings of this study will add important ramifications to the literature on racialization of migrants.

I conducted in-depth interviews with a total of 150 Syrian refugees and 100 local people in eight different cities including three big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and five border cities of Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Sanliurfa and Mardin. My participants consist of both men and women, aged from 19 to 54, mostly working class except for some informants-, and belong to different ethnic and religious groups living in various districts of these cities. In choosing my participants from various groups, I aim to explore whether ethnicity, class and religion play an important role in the experiences of racialization.

Liminal Statuses in Liminal Places: Refused asylum seekers living in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK – Jenny Smith, Newcastle University

This study critically explores the lived experience of intercultural interactions for refused asylum seekers in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; they occupy, a particularly marginalised identity within the complex and ever-changing asylum-refugee spectrum. With no governmental support and little or no public recognition of their liminal political statuses, these individuals are particularly marginalised through destitution and homelessness. This paper looks to understand the resistance and tactics that my participants use to deal with the precarious and vulnerable position they have been placed in.

Despite this shared asylum outcome, this excluded group is extremely heterogeneous with the project working with over 14 nationalities including Liberia, Zimbabwe, Palestine and Eritrea that have remained homeless and reliant on NGOs from several months to 11 years. Each have varying strategies to deal with these exclusionary policies dependent on English skills, their ‘body’ and the communities they have engaged with. This paper focuses on encounters ranging from moments of cultural exchange to everyday racism as they move through the city, as a crucial way to negotiate challenges such as homelessness and the temporal uncertainty that they encounter when dealing with Home Office processes (Griffiths, 2014). Mobility within these liminal spaces is placed as central, in particular looking at the way in which individuals with this political status are placed in motion (Jackson, 2015). Here, my participants initiate mobility as a tactic to ‘use up time’ when awaiting changes in their cases, whilst simultaneously having to succumb to mobility, experiencing a loss such as moving to Newcastle city to receive free legal aid for a fresh claim.

Deserving and Undeserving Migrants – Dr Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University and Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal, University of Bedfordshire

This paper reflects on the findings of the ESRC-funded Mapping Immigration Controversy project to reflect on the incidence of segregation and resistance in the context of high-profile government campaigns against ‘illegal immigration’. These included checks at train stations and bus stops, poster campaigns, an advertising van encouraging people to ‘go home or face arrest’ and raids on homes and workplaces. To consider their impact on local communities, the research team conducted 14 focus groups with 74 people and 24 activist interviews across six areas – the West Midlands, Ealing/Hounslow, Bradford, Barking and Dagenham, Cardiff and Glasgow. The paper speaks to the concerns with multi-ethnic neighbourhoods and the simultaneity of division and unity, of tension and empathy and conviviality.

This paper highlights two of our findings: that research participants (including ethnic minorities and recent immigrants) distinguished between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ migrants but, within the same spaces, also created counter-narratives, expressions of solidarity and empathy, particularly where immigration controls were clearly understood as racist. While recognizing that some may have internalised dominant racist narratives in reaction against localized competition over limited resources or as a defence against their own experience of subjection, this paper invokes Beverley Skeggs’ (1997; 2008; 2014) work on values and respectability to consider these as narratives of dis-identification and strategies for recognition. Moreover, our findings reflect how racialized and gendered understandings of respectability now coincide and cohabit territories increasingly defined by an austerity agenda and neoliberal values of productivity and aspiration. However, we will also explore the simultaneous presence within local neighbourhoods of forms of resistance and counter-narratives reflecting the ongoing production of ‘values beyond value’. We argue that such values develop from the recognition of the racist dimensions of immigration controls, enabled by localised political histories that have nurtured the production of resistance to racism at every level.

Trans-local racisms. How Poles in England negotiate racism between urban multiculture and national homogeneity –Prof. Dr. Magdalena Nowicka, Humboldt University in Berlin

To think of racism through the lens of its geographies and temporality – which is how I understand a trans-local lens – is productive for our understanding of current processes of social integration in cities in Europe. Such an interactive model of racism can help us in understanding adaptability, polyphony, spread and endurance of racism in Europe and develop a new take on intersections of racism and immigration.

As vast literature demonstrates, racism is flexible, changing through, and within, the historical and geographical contexts. It is actively interpreted, adapted, transformed, and possibly rejected by various social actors in different locations around the globe. I take the example of the Polish ‘post-enlargement’ immigration in England to scrutinize how racism is transformed within social networks spanning localities within and across national borders. I consider immigrants as actors linking two porous, heterogeneous and dynamic spaces in which dominant forms of racism are dissimilar.

My theoretical arguments are derived from the analysis of more than 100 narrative interviews conducted in London, Birmingham as well as selected cities in the Midlands (Leicester, Northampton, Coventry) between 2010 and 2015. Polish immigrants, I observe, employ variants of racial discourses in different ways, depending on the local and social contexts in which they live. I demonstrate how the research participants incorporate, reproduce and transform racism present in the British multicultural public space within their cultural repertoire (habitus) shaped by education, public discourses and (lack of) exposure to diversity in Poland and internalized by them before migration. I argue that the process of incorporation and transformation needs to be comprehended as negotiation within trans-locally spanning social networks between the immigrants in English cities and their families and friends back in Poland. Racism, in this sense, is a trans-local outcome of such ongoing negotiations between parties in two or more geographical locations.