Expulsion, Membership and Political Community: Historical and Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives Sept 2008 – Dec 2009

Overview

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)

Researchers

Emanuela Paoletti (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford)

Funder

The John Fell/OUP Fund

Partners

Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford

Countries

UK

Topics

CitizenshipDetention and DeportationPolitics

Regions

Europe

Theory

This project aimed to develop a framework using deportation as the prism though which to examine citizenship historically and across a number of different countries. This approach offers a novel set of questions around the issues of membership, territory, political community and the liberal state. Much work on membership so far examines the rules and processes by which foreigners gain citizenship in liberal democratic societies (Lister 1997; Brubaker 1992; Castles & Davidson 2000). However, by examining the processes through which rights of residence are lost as well as acquired, new light can be shed on how membership is in a process of transition. By employing multiple and unusual disciplinary combinations the project sought to analyse the extent to which conceptions of membership constrain and shape the controversial practice of deportation in liberal democracies and vice-versa.

Methods

The research was desk based, aiming to provide a literature review of work on deportation and simultaneously identify gaps in the field. An international conference on deportation and belonging was also held in December 2008.

Findings

The practice of deportation reveals how both the legal and the normative boundaries of membership are constructed and contested. While deportation is ‘constitutive of citizenship’ it is also liable to generate conflicts among citizens and between citizens and the state over the question of who is part of the normative community. Deportation highlights just how divided and confused modern societies are in how they conceptualise membership and who has the right to determine membership. Far from settling the question of who is a citizen, deportation can exacerbate it.