Rethinking immigration detention: removal centres as spaces of religious revival

McGregor, JoAnn (2012) Rethinking immigration detention: removal centres as spaces of religious revival. Political Geography, 31 (4). pp. 236-246. ISSN 0962-6298

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Abstract

This article investigates the effects of confinement on the religious subjectivities of migrants who have been held in British removal centres, elaborating connections to broader debates and mobilizations over the boundaries of citizenship and belonging. It draws on geographic scholarship on affect and the emotions to shed new light on the embodied experiences of detention, its wider socio-political effects and the complex links between intensified religious identities and politics. I argue that removal centres are acting as spaces of religious revival. African ex-detainees' narratives of their confinement dwelt repeatedly on their experiences of religious renewal, and the article explores how Christianity and the Bible provided bodily, narrative and performative ways of coping with, and countering the fraught ‘affective atmosphere’ within detention centres. Faith was a source of energy, hope and strength, created ‘communities of practice’ within and beyond the removal centres, while religious narratives affirmed detainees' humanity. Some expressions of faith underpinned directly political messages, intersecting with ideas about the self as a rights-bearing subject. By including religious responses in debates over the effects of the restrictive border controls, the discussion not only highlights dimensions of non-citizens’ socio-political agency but also demands a rethinking of the broader socio-political consequences of detention and deportability. The article is based on interviews with ex-detainees, chaplains and members of detainee visitors' groups as well as official inspection reports.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Depositing User: Jayne Paulin
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2013 13:33
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2013 13:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/45717
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