Seminar – Anna Maguire on ‘Hostile Environments: Refugees, Asylum Seekers and The Politics of Loneliness’

In the first paper in our 2021/22 seminar series, Anna Maguire from Queen Mary, University of London explores experiences of refugee isolation and loneliness as a weapon of the state.

Claims to a historic tradition of ‘sanctuary’ in the United Kingdom are contested by the long, entangled roots of the hostile environment, long before its official announcement as policy by the 2012 Coalition government. What happens if we frame this hostility or inhospitability as the structural enforcement of loneliness? Solitude and isolation have seen refugees ‘fall through the cracks’ of welfare statutory support. Loneliness is the consequence of racism and xenophobia. It is a weapon used by the state, to construct borders, to separate families, to imprison, to detain, to deport, to take away belonging.

In this paper, I take the experiences of refugee loneliness in the second half of the twentieth century as a lens through which to historicise resettlement in Britain. I examine how isolation and loneliness has been articulated, especially in critique of the UK’s response to refugees, and attempts to ‘solve’ loneliness by charities and community organisations striving to welcome refugees and asylum seekers.

This seminar will take place online.

All are welcome but booking is required. Please click here to register your attendance.