The narratives presented in British public debates around terrorism have been long rooted in notions of increased presence of Islam in the public square as intuitively resulting in greater risk to the public. The most significant question this raises is who the ‘public’ refers to when discussing issues around securitisation. The recent horror of Christchurch represents something of an inverted scenario with the positioning, and following it we saw a series of Islamophobic attacks on mosques in Birmingham.
The connection between global and local events is significant because it explicitly requires us to engage in a process which, we argue in our Identities article, 'Securing whiteness?: Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the securitization of Muslims in education', is often absent. Our purpose in the article was to explore some of the ways in which Muslim communities are racialised and instrumentalised, rather than protected. Getting to grips with how Muslims have been located as stakeholders in national security in Britain is revealing.
A large part of the Prevent counter-terror strategy relies on partnerships with Muslim communities. So in many senses British Muslims are the key stakeholder group in the securitisation process -- so how does it play out for them? How are their interests reflected in exchange for engaging in these partnerships with the state?
The answers to these questions are explored in depth in our article, and are centred around a series of processes of racialisation that have disproportionately impacted on communities across nearly all sectors of social life.
An alliance of political debates and media narratives has forged a reality where it seems like common sense to commandeer Muslim organisations in securitisation strategies as a way of negating ‘risk’ by regulating Islamic influence in the public space. However, thinking about Muslims as stakeholders in any part of this process has been made to seem like a counter-intuitive position.
When we consider that the notion of ‘Fundamental British Values’ first appears in Prevent guidelines as a counter-point for identifying extremism, the overlooking of Muslim interests becomes absorbed into a bigger picture within which white British interests hold a far higher value than those of British Muslim citizens.
It is within this problematic scenario where we see a disparity in how voices are responded to -- and this occurs across racialised lines. The emphasis on Fundamental British Values clearly connects these disparities to wider issues around national identity and what is meant by Britishness and Englishness.
Security is presented as an impartial process which is about the protection of citizens. But for British Muslims the experience is very different. It seems that for them security is less about being protected and more about being instrumentalised.
The question to ask amidst all of this is how far securitisation strategies are ‘securing whiteness’, at the expense of British Muslims as stakeholders in security themselves?
Blog post by Damian Breen, Birmingham City University, UK and Nasar Meer, University of Edinburgh, UK
Read the full article: Breen, Damian & Meer, Nasar. Securing whiteness?: Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the securitization of Muslims in education. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1589981
When Eurosceptics become Europhiles: far-right opposition to Turkish involvement in the European Union
‘Turkey in means Britain out’: this was one of Nigel Farage’s rallying calls during the Brexit campaign, and these ideas were echoed by numerous others within politics and the media during the referendum. A topic which has long proved controversial among Europe’s elites, Turkish involvement in the European Union has seen renewed interest and opposition over recent years in the context of the so-called ‘migrant crisis’, the 2016 EU-Turkey statement, rising Euroscepticism and the mainstreaming of Islamophobia.
Much of the scholarship has suggested that hostility towards Turkey is associated with the construction of European identity. However, while this notion works for those supportive of the EU, the same cannot be said for those who explicitly reject Europe. How and why, therefore, do openly Eurosceptic parties fervently defend the idea of ‘Europeanness’ in order to reject Turkish involvement in the EU?
My Identities article, 'When Eurosceptics become Europhiles: far-right opposition to Turkish involvement in the European Union', explores this question by analysing articles from the official party websites of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the Front National/Rassemblement National (FN/RN) over a five-year period (2013-18). Drawing on theories of Islamophobia and Orientalism, the findings highlight that the construction of Turkey as a dangerous other does not constitute a new phenomenon linked to EU integration, but instead forms part of a longer tradition of racism towards ‘the Orient’.
Turkey as an other
It is too big, too poor and too different from us. (UKIP, 04/05/2016)
Both UKIP and the FN/RN portray Turkey as fundamentally different from Europe in terms of its politics and its people. Orientalist metaphors alluding to empire, such as ‘sultan’, ‘Ottoman’ and a ‘future caliphate’, are used to describe the Turkish government and president. Thus, despite legitimate concerns over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s repressive actions against Turkish citizens, the use of Orientalist imagery by these parties underlines their desire to create a form of cultural, not simply political, othering.
This notion of cultural incompatibility is reinforced by their descriptions of Turkish civilisation and people. Religion is central in this framing, with negativity linked both overtly and covertly with Turkey’s association with Islam. For example, a comparison is made to Christians, who are described by the FN/RN as ‘deliverers of balance and stability’ (10/11/2017). The implication is that Muslims are the opposite to this description and are not only different from, but also inferior to, Europeans and European cultural heritage. Thus, strongly Eurosceptic parties become ‘Europhiles’ by subscribing to the notion of a collective European identity in order to other Turkey.
Turkey as a threat
You have declared the lands of our peoples 'lands open to mass immigration and Turkish influence.' (FN/RN, 11/05/2016)
Both UKIP and the FN/RN depict Turkey as a source of danger to Europe through migration and terrorism. Alongside grossly exaggerated warnings of ‘80 million Turks’ (FN/RN, 01/05/2016) entering Europe, Turkish migrants are portrayed as having attitudes incompatible with European liberal progressiveness. UKIP, for example, claim that the arrival of male migrants ‘who do not share European values […] has resulted in spikes in crimes such as rape’ (18/10/2017). By linking sexual violence with migrants so unequivocally, it becomes an exclusively ‘non-European’ problem and, through the widespread manipulation of feminist ideas to target Islam, is implied to be simply a ‘Muslim’ problem (Farris 2012).
Depictions of cultural threat are further emphasised by Turkey’s repeated association with terrorism, whether through accusations of participating in, facilitating or tacitly supporting it. As such, Turkish people are framed as posing a security threat to Europe. Terrorism, like sexual violence, becomes a ‘non-European’ issue, and similarly, its common association with Islam means that it is seen as rooted in culture (Tuastad 2010). The securitisation of Islam and immigration proves a powerful combination. As such, despite attacking the European political project, these parties become defenders of Europe against an outside ‘threat’.
Eurosceptics become Europhiles
In summary, these parties use Orientalist and Islamophobic discourse to construct Turkey as a dangerous other and exclude it permanently from a mythical vision of ‘Europeanness’. The transformation of Eurosceptics into Europhiles underlines how the rejection of Turkey does not simply constitute a mode of fostering loyalty to the EU but is also used to reinforce racist notions of Western superiority.
Farris, S.R. 2012. Femonationalism and the 'regular' army of labor called migrant women. History of the Present 2: 184–199.
Tuastad, D. 2010. Neo-Orientalism and the new barbarism thesis: aspects of symbolic violence in the Middle East conflict(s). Third World Quarterly 24: 591-599.
Blog post by Katy Brown, University of Bath, UK
Read the full article: Brown, Katy. When Eurosceptics become Europhiles: far-right opposition to Turkish involvement in the European Union. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1617530
By the 1980s a significant shift occurred in the ethnic composition of the Israeli middle class. This was the result of social and cultural changes in the Israeli society. The weakening of the Labour party, identified with European immigrants (Ashkenazim), and the rise of the right-wing Likud party, supported by Middle East and North Western Jews (Mizrahim), lowered ethnic boundaries in the labour market.
As I explore in my Identities article, ‘Invisible boundaries within the middle class and the construction of ethnic identity’, the transition from a centralised to a capitalist economy, together with the incorporation of Palestinians into the Israeli labour structure in 1967, released Mizrahi Jews from their low-status rank and enabled them to develop self-employed small businesses. A significant growth of local colleges throughout Israel in the 1990s enabled Mizrahi Jews who were not admitted to the universities to acquire higher education.
The mobility of Mizrahi Jews was also made possible by the social legitimation granted by the veteran middle class. This legitimation was the result of Zionist ideology that sought to eliminate 'ethnic' differences in order to create a unified Israeli identity. These changes narrowed the income gaps between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews, to the eightfold growth in the number of Mizrahi students earning an MA degree, and to the formation of Mizrahi elites in the political sphere, state bureaucracy, the military and academia. These processes fostered the consolidation of a prominent Mizrahi middle class, to which currently more than half of Mizrahi Jews belong. The integration of Mizrahim into the Ashkenazi middle class led sociologists to assume that this integration would lower ethnic boundaries (discrimination and ethnic segregation) with veteran Ashkenazim and weaken Mizrahim's ethnic identification.
By exploring the daily experiences of 52 middle class adolescents, my research examined if indeed the integration of Mizrahi Jews into the veteran middle class lowers ethnic boundaries and weaken ethnic identities in Israel. The research demonstrates that although Mizrahi adolescents share with their Ashkenazi peers many social and cultural patterns such as joining youth movements and taking enrichment classes, frequent travel abroad and high cultural tastes, they suffer from subtle and invisible ethnic boundaries, i.e. microaggressions.
Microaggressions are commonplace daily verbal, behavioural and/or visual acts that communicate negative slights and insults to express the superiority of the Ashkenazi group and provide verification of the inferiority of the Mizrahi group. By signifying ethnic differences between adolescents, these acts construct the ethnic identity of adolescents in three stages. In the first and second stages, everyday microaggressions classify spaces into Western/Ashkenazi and Eastern/Mizrahi sides and array them in hierarchies. In these interactions Mizrahi adolescents, who feel embarrassment, frustration and anger, internalise these classifications and thus identify with the set of cultural preferences and cognition schemes that 'belong' to the Eastern identity. In the last stage, when these adolescents move in middle-class spaces, they act in keeping with the cultural preferences and cognition schemes that they have internalised.
To conclude, this research demonstrates that as racial ideology and overt boundaries lose their formal social legitimation, dominant middle-class groups react by shaping ethnic boundaries anew in order to maintain their domination.
Blog post by Guy Abutbul-Selinger, The College of Management Academic Studies, Israel
Read the full article: Abutbul-Selinger, Guy. Invisible boundaries within the middle class and the construction of ethnic identity. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1520448
For some migrant farm workers, exiting their state-approved contracts can provide an everyday means to refuse poor working conditions and evade coercive immigration and employment controls that are endemic to the agricultural streams of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Exiting their employment, an action that workers refer to as ‘escape’, puts at risk their right to legally reside in Canada.
However, in the Identities article, '"Escaping" managed labour migration: worker exit as precarious migrant agency', I examine how workers’ first-hand depictions of ‘escaping’ employment reveal new insights into how workers may claim a space of belonging that contradicts their experiences of status-based vulnerability.
By leaving the farm and by extension Canada’s state-managed labour migration regime, workers are both refusing a life of precarity and embracing an unknown future where hope and chance may reveal a happier and more desirable life.
I felt hopeless and sad. I was aware that there was nothing I could do. I packed my bag and hid it under the bed. My bag stayed hidden there for a few hours and then I escaped from the bunkhouse.
Deciding to quit their state-approved employer can be an important episode in migrant farm workers’ personal biographies of work and migration. Workers often describe sneaking out of their employer-provided housing complexes in the darkness of night, walking for hours along rural roads searching for the nearest payphone, and undertaking days-long Canada-wide bus rides in search of work and support in bigger cities.
What becomes clear from talking to workers about their decisions to ‘escape’ managed labour migration is that packing their bags and leaving the farm in search of better work opportunities and a life free from invasive immigration controls provides an everyday chance for workers to act on the aspirations that originally motivated their decisions to come to Canada.
I wanted to take advantage of the situation and to not lose the big opportunity to be in Canada, a country where the future will be better for me economically, from the perspective that one day I could provide better opportunities for my people, for my children and my family. If I go back to my country I will live in poverty.
In their refusal to inhabit the narrow terms of their contractual agreements to the state and their employer, workers are thus claiming an everyday space of belonging, however insecure and unpredictable this space may be. Placing themselves outside of the reach of their employers and of the state is a way for workers to both refuse institutionalised precarity and carve out an autonomous life that is at once meaningful and imperceptible to institutional mechanisms of power, and thus poses an analytical challenge to the more conventional understanding that visibility is central to social and political subjectivity.
Blog post by Adam Perry, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada
Read the full article: Perry, Adam. 'Escaping' managed labour migration: worker exit as precarious migrant agency. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1589157
Being international, open and cosmopolitan is ‘cool’. This is specifically true for students at elite universities, where values such as multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism are promoted and enhanced by diversity-related activities and spaces. But what do students actually mean when they self-identify as cosmopolitans or global citizens? Do they all mean the same thing (probably not)? And what role does cosmopolitanism actually play in their lives?
My research, as explored in the Identities article, 'Exploring disjuncture: elite students' use of cosmopolitanism', is based on 24 interviews with international students at a global university in the UK. Its main finding is a typology of four different ways in which students use the idea of cosmopolitanism.
To fill this typology with life, I introduce the reader to Jing, Shigeki, Faisal and Anna. Each of these four students represents one of the four ways in which my respondents made sense of cosmopolitanism.
Jing found herself deeply inspired by the university’s cosmopolitanism and decided to change her life. She said she wanted ‘to make more impact’ and work for the betterment of society (as for an NGO). Jing thus used cosmopolitanism to form a new strategy of action.
Shigeki used cosmopolitanism in a different way. He actively examined his life and carried on a complex, intense conversation with himself about whether his thinking and acting was actually cosmopolitan. He thus used cosmopolitanism as a moral guideline to evaluate his ways of going about things and to examine his daily life.
In contrast, Faisal seemed to use cosmopolitanism ‘only’ rhetorically to defend his established life strategy. Faisal seemed to be oriented towards doing well on the job market and maximising his individual marketability. Within this strategy, he referred to cosmopolitan values to make particular choices. For instance, he mentioned that he was planning on donating money to charitable causes. However, he did not use cosmopolitanism to actively interrogate experience (as Shigeki), or set out new life goals (as Jing).
Anna was a cosmopolitan by socialisation. Having grown up in an elite transnational family, she had internalised cosmopolitan skills, habits and styles from a very early age. She had friends around the world and found it easy to immerse herself in different cultures. For her, it was just natural to be cosmopolitan. However, Anna’s elite cosmopolitan strategies of action were not complemented by self-consciously expressed cosmopolitan aspirations. Accordingly, she neither used cosmopolitanism to actively interrogate experience, nor to ‘remind’ herself of how to act.
How can we explain these different ways of making sense of cosmopolitanism?
Drawing on cultural theorist Ann Swidler, I argue that individuals, who find themselves in an unsettled phase of their life, may mobilise cosmopolitanism either to set themselves new life goals (Jing) or to closely examine their lives (Shigeki). In settled lives, cosmopolitanism may be integrated in established strategies of action (Anna) but it may also be used to (rhetorically) defend a stable orientation (Faisal).
Who will find this paper an interesting read?
First of all: Researchers who are interested in students’ and young people’s ways of using cosmopolitanism and the ambivalences of students’ engagements with cosmopolitanism. But also: Everyone interested in elite students’ thinking, feeling and sense-making. The article offers vivid descriptions to Jing’s, Shigeki’s, Faisal’s and Anna’s approaches to life, and I would not be surprised if you felt yourself reminded of someone you know when reading the article.
Blog post by Eunike Piwoni, University of Göttingen, Germany
Read the full article: Piwoni, Eunike. Exploring disjuncture: elite students' use of cosmopolitanism. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1441691
I am sitting in the office of a refugee support and advocacy organisation in north-England to interview a refugee about her experience. The focus of our conversation is not on why Faith fled her country or how the charity helped her integrate in the UK. Instead, we talk about how she started working as a caseworker for one of the main refugee third sector organisations. When Faith walks into the office, people might think she is a client waiting for an appointment. They might initially be surprised when she sits down on the other side of the desk as they fail to recognise her as the professional worker that she is.
Stories about refugees and employment tend to highlight the significant obstacles in accessing the labour market (Kone et al. 2019). Lack of recognition of qualifications and home country work experience, short-term interventions by job agencies and language barriers all contribute to unemployment and deskilling. Many professionals end up in manual jobs in factories, catering or care. Refugees are overrepresented in so-called ‘3D jobs’; those that are Dirty, Dangerous and Degrading. Or they find work in 'ethnic niches', segments of the labour market with an overrepresentation of certain ethnic groups, such as the taxi industry or Ethiopian and Afghan restaurants.
In the Identities article, ‘A window of opportunity? Refugee staff’s employment in migrant support and advocacy organizations’, I present the findings of my research into a very distinct employment 'niche' for refugees: the niche constituted by organisations that have asylum seekers and refugees as their client group. Based on interviews with refugee staff in the UK, the Netherlands and Austria, I argue that the concept of 'ethnic niche' fails to capture the particularities of the employment opportunities offered by the refugee third sector.
For example, staff composition and recruitment is not dominated by one ethnic group. Some of my – mostly highly educated – research participants became voluntary interpreters first when their language skills were recognised by the caseworkers that they met as clients. Others, like Faith, had a history in charity work in their home countries and actively sought out this employment opportunity.
As she explained in our conversation:
'When we got our refugee status, we were helped by a caseworker at Refugee Council. She was from Nigeria and had an MA in Development Studies like me. When I saw her doing that job, I asked her how she got there. Because you know, when you move here, all you're told is that your qualifications don't count and that you need to be doing care work. It really affected me to think that my professional experience with a humanitarian organisation and my degree would go to waste. Honestly when I got home that day, I went straight to the websites of Refugee Council and Refugee Action. And every single day I checked out their vacancies.'
Unlike most 'ethnic niches', the role is coveted because case work is recognised as a skilled job.
However, as the interviews revealed, the window of opportunity that employment in refugee third sector organisations offers also comes with traps. Refugee staff like Faith worried that while their employers valued the intercultural competences and experiential knowledge that refugee case workers can draw on in the contact with the clients, they viewed them as “less professional” when boundaries between them and their clients were blurred because of shared ethnic background or asylum histories. They were frustrated with being mistaken for interpreters or felt the burden of having to interpret on top of their regular case load.
Finally, while refugee case workers have managed to move from being clients to being case workers, they often get stuck in frontline positions and rarely get promoted to managerial roles. These traps need to be recognised and addressed, so that one day Faith can walk into the office and head straight for the director’s room. With no one lifting an eyebrow.
Kone, Z., I. Ruiz & C. Vargas-Silva. 2019. Refugees and the UK labour market. Oxford, UK: COMPAS, University of Oxford. Available at https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/ECONREF-Refugees-and-the-UK-Labour-Market-report.pdf.
Blog post by Sara de Jong, University of York, UK
Read the full article: de Jong, Sara. A window of opportunity? Refugee staff’s employment in migrant support and advocacy organizations. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1533192
'First, I'll need tenure. And a big research grant. Also access to a lab and five graduate students — at least three of them Chinese.'
- Professor Ogden Wernstrom, Physicist
Those are Professor Ogden Wernstrom’s demands when asked to save the Earth from a giant garbage ball approaching through space in the Futurama episode, A Big Piece of Garbage. Portrayed as an obvious antagonist, Wernstrom seems greedy and exclusively concerned with his own career advancement. He also seemingly regards grad students as just another commodity to further his own goals, with Chinese students as particularly valuable or useful assets.
This specific view on Chinese researchers as not much more than pricey pieces of high-tech equipment was provided by a cartoon villain 20 years ago, but it arguably still falls into the questionable category of 'it’s funny because it’s true': it indeed resonates with prejudices that extend beyond the Futurama universe and into real-world academic discourse.
One place where similar views on 'non-western' researchers can be found is the discourse on scientific misconduct. High-profile scandals of scientific fraud and plagiarism regularly make the news headlines, and the frequency, causes and consequences of scientific misconduct are at the centre of much academic and public speculation. Whenever we talk about the presumed causes of deviance, we make deeply normative claims about the allocation of responsibility and blame. Much more than just the goal and result of neutral scientific inquiry, these causal explanations are a powerful mechanism of social exclusion, constructing a fault line between an ‘us’, who value and live by the rules of the community, and a somehow inferior ‘them’, who break the rules.
In the Identities article, 'Science and its Others: examining the discourse about scientific misconduct through a postcolonial lens', I analyse 31 expert interviews with people responsible for handling scientific misconduct cases at universities, journals and other academic organisations and show that violations of research integrity are frequently blamed on so-called foreign scientific cultures that allegedly are more prone to misconduct. Researchers from those 'foreign' cultures are characterised in two different ways in those causal stories: at times they are depicted as backwards, uncivilised and uneducated; and their knowledge production is seen as generally inferior to western science. Such a depiction draws heavily on well-established themes of Eurocentric knowledge.
However, at other times, especially with regard to Chinese researchers, they are characterised as advanced, highly intelligent and productive, yet lacking a moral consciousness. In comparison to the idealised 'western' researcher, they appear almost cyborg-like: highly efficient, technologically advanced and rational, but also immoral, emotionally cold and ultimately interchangeable with one another. Such views are also consistent with established stereotypes of Asians as a hypersuccessful 'model minority' that pose 'implicit threats to the upward mobility of others' (Cardozo & Subramaniam 2013).
Of course, a factor like 'academic culture' will probably have an influence on researchers’ (deviant) behaviour. This example, however, shows that the way this 'culture' is currently constructed and discussed leans heavily on stereotypes and reproduces exclusions already present in the scientific community. As such, it doesn’t speak much about the actual working conditions of Chinese (or Mexican, or Egyptian, or Russian) researchers, but says a lot about the collective imaginary of 'western' academia. Apparently, it still looks a lot like Wernstrom’s ideal scientific life, where the advancement of white (male) researchers counts more than the fate of the rest of the world.
Cardozo, K. & B. Subramaniam. 2013. Assembling Asian/American naturecultures: Orientalism and invited invasions. Journal of Asian American Studies 16: 1–23.
Blog post by Felicitas Hesselmann, German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies, and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Read the full article: Hesselmann, Felicitas. Science and its Others: examining the discourse about scientific misconduct through a postcolonial lens. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1538065
In recent years border walls have been built in different parts of the world in order to stop irregular migration. However, barriers for migrants are not only constructed physically but also discursively in political discourses. It is known that restrictive policies in Europe are accompanied by exclusionary discourses on national citizenship for immigrants, depicting them as either ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’.
Empirical studies have demonstrated that the representation of immigrants and their citizenship in policies plays an important role in how these policies are received and acted upon, both by the host community and the immigrants themselves (da Lomba 2010; Stewart and Mulvey 2014). As such, studying political discourses might contribute to the understanding of the socioeconomic and political incorporation of immigrants into the host community.
In the study presented in the Identities article, 'The labyrinth towards citizenship: contradictions in the framing and categorization of immigrants in immigration and integration policies', my co-author and I aimed to fully grasp how immigrants were framed in immigration policies in Belgium. Although previous studies have treated immigration and integration policies as distinct fields, we argue that a combined analysis of these two policy domains is needed in order to comprehend the full complexity of immigration policy. By mapping the different representations of immigrants in the wider policy field, we found that this is much more complex than the generally adopted contrast between deserving and undeserving suggest.
This map of discursive policy representations does not reflect a linear route towards citizenship, but instead a labyrinth filled with turns and barriers, as exemplified by the discursive categorisations and contradictions with which migrants are confronted. More concretely, within policy discourses a difference is made between various categories of newly arrived migrants, with the path for ‘criminal’ and ‘profiteer’ migrants proving to be a dead end (i.e. return). Immigrants who are initially labelled as ‘victims’ can later turn into ‘criminals’ or ‘profiteers’. If these immigrants do not subsequently return to their home countries, they are labelled as ‘unauthorised’ immigrants or ‘illegals’.
In the integration-policy discourse, this places them within a grey area, in which they are not recognised as citizens, even though they participate in society. Immigrants who are recognised as refugees arrive in the ‘probationary-citizenship’ stage, which can ultimately lead to formal citizenship when proving to be ‘good’ citizens through cultural assimilation and socioeconomic participation. Accordingly, it is theoretically possible for them to reach the exit of the labyrinth. However, it seems almost impossible for them to reach the status of ‘full citizen’, given the manner in which the citizenship of Belgian people of colour is constantly questioned (i.e. the ‘virtual-citizenship’ stage) and the participation of undocumented immigrants is not recognised. Only white Belgians are regarded as ‘full citizens’.
In addition, we unravel four contradictions characteristic of this labyrinth. First, human rights are used as an instrument of both inclusion and exclusion in the hands of national governments. Second, the citizenship of Belgian people of colour is persistently virtualised, thus serving as a reference for problematising the prospective citizenship of newly arriving immigrants. Third, the combined analysis of the policy domains of immigration and integration reveals how immigrants must be simultaneously powerless and active agents, in addition to being able to use both conditions strategically. Finally, unauthorised immigrants are also discursively positioned within a grey zone between formal exclusion and informal inclusion, with the latter remaining unrecognised by the state. These discursive contradictions have the potential to become actual barriers in the labyrinth towards citizenship.
The discursive labyrinth legitimises a wide range of policies and measures of inclusion and exclusion of immigrants. Given the persistent problematisation of the citizenship status of people of colour, we claim that this labyrinth might have no end.
da Lomba, S. 2010. Legal status and refugee integration: a UK perspective. Journal of Refugee Studies 23: 415-436.
Stewart, E. & G. Mulvey. 2014. Seeking safety beyond refuge: the impact of immigration and citizenship policy upon refugees in the UK. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 40: 1023-1039.
Blog post by Rachel Waerniers, Ghent University, Belgium
Read the full article: Waerniers, Rachel & Hustinx, Lesley. The labyrinth towards citizenship: contradictions in the framing and categorization of immigrants in immigration and integration policies. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1590025
Canada and the United States are touted as multicultural societies, both formally through multiculturalism policies and informally through cultural narratives and metaphors such as the 'melting pot.' Still, these policies, narratives and metaphors can actually mask persistent inequalities that immigrant populations must navigate through, even for populations that already appear well-equipped to adapt to the host culture.
This is the case for Filipina/os. In my Identities article, 'The centrality of neoliberalism in Filipina/o perceptions of multiculturalism in Canada and the United States', Filipina/o university students in Toronto and Los Angeles discuss their views regarding ethnic identity maintenance and inclusion in their respective environments. The results were a bit counter-intuitive.
Since Canada promotes formal multiculturalism through federally-funded events and support for community-building within various ethnic communities, one might expect Filipina/os in Toronto to have a greater sense of ethnic identity and sense of belonging in Toronto compared to their counterparts in California, mostly because of the absence of multiculturalism policies in the United States.
Instead, it appears Filipina/os in both contexts experience stigma in very similar ways because of their racial and ethnic differences. This inhibits a full sense of belonging. For many Filipina/os, these negative responses to their racial and ethnic differences negate any advantages they experience coming from a country already accustomed to Western values, ideas, cultures, education and institutions — a legacy of former colonisation in the Philippines by Spain and the United States.
While Filipina/os in Toronto were aware of multiculturalism policy in Canada, they remained baffled by the everyday experiences of prejudice and discrimination and the lack of attention to stigma against them. The Toronto interviewees tended to adopt a 'blame the victim' approach that is associated with neoliberalism. Essentially, Filipina/os should be able to overcome any hardship in their lives if they just work harder. The problem with the neoliberal strategy of destigmatisation is that it puts no focus on institutions and social contexts, such as experiences of racism, classism, sexism, etc., as explanations for why some groups could be having a harder time fitting into the mainstream than other groups.
The interviewees in California, by contrast, are more likely to emphasise the role of social institutions in the status hierarchy of Filipina/os in respect to the mainstream. Although the United States has no federally-funded policies for ethnic groups, there is a level of political activism, particularly in higher education, that has led to social change. The Third World Liberation Front and student-led strikes in the Bay Area during the 1960s worked in tandem with many people power movements of the time, which contributed to the creation of a College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and other ethnic studies programmes throughout the nation. This enables a history and vocabulary for the California students to critique nation-state relations between the United States and the Philippines, rather than say that Filipina/os simply must work harder.
The findings caution against an overreliance on policies to address the past effects of discrimination. This is a story from the voices of Filipina/os that there needs to be a constant reminder of why those policies were there in the first place, particularly through critical discussions of race and ethnic relations that happen in universities. This is more likely to happen in California, but Toronto is beginning to address this need, too — even in the absence of a Civil Rights Movement comparable to the United States — as a number of scholars critique racial hierarchies and establish spaces for Filipina/os to heal, such as performing arts venues. These efforts demonstrate the enormous work needed to help people truly feel included in their very diverse societies.
Blog post by Vincent Laus, California State University, USA
Read the full article: Laus, Vincent. The centrality of neoliberalism in Filipina/o perceptions of multiculturalism in Canada and the United States. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1611071
Many Western expatriates are routinely exposed to being labelled laowai (老外 in Mandarin, literally ‘old foreigner’) in mainland China. According to a 2007 report in People’s Daily, Chinese users of the slang term laowai feel it shows their respect and intimacy for Westerners (‘Is 'Laowai' a Negative...' 2007). This Chinese interpretation was empirically verified by a 2015 research article (Mao 2015).
But some people on the receiving end feel that laowai is a stereotype-laden form of ‘othering’, defined as discourses that create a boundary between insiders and outsiders. Why are these interpretations so different? Why do Westerners feel resentful when they are addressed as laowai?
In order to address these questions, we focused on American expatriates living in mainland China, often regarded as prototypical ‘Westerners’ there. We conducted in-depth interviews with 35 American expatriates who ranged in age from 19 to 36 years, varied in sojourn length from six months to ten years, were in different occupations and of diverse racial categories (White/Chinese/Latino/African Americans). By inviting these Americans to reflect upon their intercultural experiences in mainland China, we explored their interpretation of the term laowai.
Our research, as discussed in the Identities article, 'Laowai as a discourse of Othering: unnoticed stereotyping of American expatriates in Mainland China', revealed that it was the ways that Chinese people employed laowai, instead of this label itself, that contributed to the discomfort of American expatriates.
First and foremost, our informants who were generally called laowai were those who did not look Chinese, so Chinese Americans and other Asian expatriates were not generally labelled in this way. Our interviewees who were called laowai felt this term conveyed a variety of negative ideas about Westerners.
For example, some said it assumed they were incapable of speaking Mandarin and understanding Chinese culture; as one interviewee put it, ‘You don’t understand it because you are laowai’. The term implied that Westerners are essentially different from the Chinese: ‘[They say]: “We Chinese people are physically not capable of drinking cold water; our DNA is different”’. Furthermore, interviewees told us Westerners were assumed to be morally corrupt and badly behaved, qualities one informant summed up thus: ‘[They think]: you must have five girlfriends, because laowai are very kaifang [sexually promiscuous]’.
From American expatriates’ perspective, these othering practices reflected Chinese users’ motivations, including constructing Chineseness as an identity based on bloodline descent, justifying their assumptions that the West and Westerners were essentially different from China and the Chinese, and attempting to maintain the superior and positive Chinese self by stigmatising Western others during intergroup encounters. Ultimately, these American expatriates experienced Chinese people’s habitual use of laowai as a way to separate them as permanent outsiders, a form of what some scholars have termed ‘Occidentalism’, involving non-Western individuals’ othering of the West in a reductive and misrepresentative way (Buruma & Margalit 2005).
Our research indicated that othering was deemed unacceptable by those subject to it, even when the specific term employed was seen as positive by users from the dominant group. We did not intend to make a value judgement on Chinese people’s habitual use of laowai, but hoped to arouse the attention of Chinese scholars, educators and institutions to the impact of othering of expatriates on the Chinese mainland, considering the increasing number of these migrants in this region.
Buruma, I. & A. Margalit. 2005. Occidentalism: the West in the eyes of its enemies. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
‘Is 'Laowai' a Negative Term?’ (2007). People's Daily Online, December 21 2007. Available at http://en.people.cn/90001/90780/91345/6325229.html.
Mao, Y. 2015. Who is a laowai? Chinese interpretations of laowai as a referring expression for non-Chinese. International Journal of Communication 9: 2119–2140.
Blog post by Yang Liu, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China; and Charles C. Self, University of Oklahoma, USA
Read the full article: Yang, Liu & Self, Charles C. Laowai as a discourse of Othering: unnoticed stereotyping of American expatriates in Mainland China. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1589158