Family, Intimacy & Migration


Migration, Borders, Diaspora - Lecture 3

Lecturer: Dr Joe Turner

Jan. 24, 2022


This session questions the idea that love is without borders. It explores how dominant structures of family and intimacy are in fact central to contemporary border regimes. In imperial states like Britain, who gets to be a ‘family’, or more precisely, accorded the social and political status that comes from being recognised as ‘real’ family is deeply racialised and bound up with colonial power. European and bourgeois constructs of family were pillars of white supremacy under formal empire and bound to projects of dispossession and exploitation. These forces continue to shape how certain ideals of family are networked throughout British immigration law, which limit mobility and settlement. Whilst patriarchal and heteronormative definitions of family are used to exclude people moving to Britain, often from former British colonies, appeals to ‘protect’ so called genuine families and ‘family values’ are increasingly used by the state to justify violent border practices.

Reading

Resources

Questions for discussion

  1. What kind of relationships do imagine when you hear the word ‘family’?
  2. How have restrictive concepts of family been used to exclude people from the UK?
  3. Can you think of other areas of social control where appeals to family are used to justify authoritarian or violent state practices (for example, policing, welfare policy etc)?
  4. How do we resist these practices? Do we also need to reimagine the connections and intimate relations of family and kinship?

This session questions the idea that love is without borders. It explores how dominant structures of family and intimacy are in fact central to contemporary border regimes. In imperial states like Britain, who gets to be a ‘family’, or more precisely, accorded the social and political status that comes from being recognised as ‘real’ family is deeply racialised and bound up with colonial power.

European and bourgeois constructs of family were pillars of white supremacy under formal empire and bound to projects of dispossession and exploitation. These forces continue to shape how certain ideals of family are networked throughout British immigration law, which limit mobility and settlement.

Whilst patriarchal and heteronormative definitions of family are used to exclude people moving to Britain, often from former British colonies, appeals to ‘protect’ so called genuine families and ‘family values’ are increasingly used by the state to justify violent border practices.

Reading

Resources

Questions for discussion

  1. What kind of relationships do imagine when you hear the word ‘family’?
  2. How have restrictive concepts of family been used to exclude people from the UK?
  3. Can you think of other areas of social control where appeals to family are used to justify authoritarian or violent state practices (for example, policing, welfare policy etc)?
  4. How do we resist these practices? Do we also need to reimagine the connections and intimate relations of family and kinship?