Working Paper

Frenzied, Decelerating and Suspended: The Temporal Uncertainties of Failed Asylum Seekers and Immigration Detainees

Published 1 January 2013 / By Melanie Griffiths

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Introduction

Despite longstanding recognition that variations exist between people’s understanding of time, and that time is central to the framing of social life and the management of bureaucratic systems, migration scholars continue to neglect the temporal dimension in their exploration of mobility. This article draws on ethnographic research conducted with undocumented immigrants and immigration detainees in the UK to consider how a recognition of time can provide insights into understanding mobility and experiences of being deportable. It argues that deportable migrants suffer from the instability and precarity created by living with a dual uncertainty of time, one that is simultaneously endless and unpredictable. It distinguishes between frenzied, indefinite and suspended temporal guises, as well as examining two sources of temporal uncertainty.

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