Expulsion, Membership and Political Community: Historical and Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives

Sept 2008 – Dec 2009
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This research project aimed to explore the ways in which the rise of deportation reflects and generates changes in conceptions of membership in liberal states. Much previous work on membership has examined the rules and processes by which foreigners gain citizenship in liberal democratic societies. However, by examining the processes through which rights of residence are lost, this research sought to shed new light on how membership is in a process of transition.

Specifically, the work looked at how the growing use of deportation has affected attitudes to the acquisition of citizenship and social integration amongst immigrant populations, and whether the threat of the recent “deportation turn” posed to the secure residence of foreigners impacted differently on particular racial and ethnic groups living in Western societies. It also sought to examine what understandings of citizenship (or membership) are implicit or explicit in recent government justifications of the law and policy of deportation; the ways in which prevalent conceptions of membership (official, legal, and popular) constrain the state’s ability to use deportation as a membership-defining tool, and the extent to which the varied vulnerability to deportation of different types of residents (for example, unlawful migrants, permanent residents, “probationary citizens”, EU citizens) create new and invidious hierarchies of membership. Findings arising from this work have important implications for understanding the terms by which immigrants are expected to integrate into Western societies.

Principal Investigator

Bridget Anderson, Matthew Gibney (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford)


Emanuela Paoletti (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford)


The John Fell/OUP Fund