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Contestations and consequences of deportability: hunger strikes and the political agency of non-citizens
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 19:57 authored by JoAnn McGregorJoAnn McGregor
This article investigates the political agency of deportable people and the legacies of detention. It explores the hunger strike as a form of political action and revisits the politics of a high-profile strike organised by Zimbabwean detainees in British removal centres in 2005. The discussion emphasises the controversy surrounding this form of protest: how hunger strikes can create new connections between detainees and broader communities of citizens and non-citizens, while at the same time being contentious and divisive. The article also debates the opportunity structure, rhetorical devices and political linkages involved in the broader anti-deportation campaigns to which high-profile political actions by detainees are sometimes linked. It explores the advantages and disadvantages of protests (such as the Zimbabwean case discussed here) that depend on political space opened up by hostile inter-governmental relations between deporting and receiving states and the multitude of transnational connections produced through post-colonial ties that can give particular migrant groups an exceptional embeddedness. The article examines the hunger strike in the context of a broader discussion of the politicising effects of detention: the ways insecure legal status shapes detainees' capacity to rebuild their lives, attitudes towards the law, justice and notions of belonging. It draws on interviews with former hunger strikers and other ex-detainees, as well as the members of their family, friends, visitors and support groups. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Department affiliated with
- International Relations Publications
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