Tag Archives: identity

Open Borders: outsiders, immigration and moral politics

by Fiona Ferbrache

The Statue of Liberty on which a plaque displays the following: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of you teamming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“How far should an open society go on accepting outsiders?”

This question relating to immigration control and citizenship was posed by political philosopher, Professor Sandel, to an audience at the University of Dallas, Texas.  This US state shares a border with Mexico and around one million illegal immigrants are said to be living in Texas.  The debate is available to listen to, as part of Radio 4′s Public Philosopher series in which Prof. Sandel discusses contemporary political issues at various universities.  In the most recent series, Prof. Sandel raised political-moral issues that have been at the forefront of agendas during the recent US Presidential campaigns.

Another question posed by Prof. Sandel is whether there should be any controls on migration at all.  He puts this to his audience by asking “how many would be in favour of open borders and how many would be against?”

Debates around ‘no border’ policies are raised by Bauder (2012) in Area.  Contextualised as a way of overcoming the ontology of the nation-state and associated identities and migrant subjectivities (i.e. the classification of migrants as foreigners and non-citizens), Bauder claims that no-border projects seek to liberalise migrants.  Not only does this free them from functionary classifications such as ‘immigrant’, ‘resident’, or ‘temporary worker’, it also draws attention to migrants’ complex identities beyond these classifications.  The concept of no borders effectively disrupts the dominant frameworks used to understand migration in the contemporary world.

In response to Prof. Sandel’s question, the majority of the audience was against open borders, while a small minority was in favour.  Where do you stand?

  Bauder, H. (2012) Nation, ‘migration’ and critical practice. Area. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01129.x

  The Public Philosopher: Immigration. Radio 4

  Latino’s immigration issue brings mixed feelings towards Obama. BBC News online

Travelling Identities: Further Attention to Mobility and Nationality

by Jen Turner

By Matt Ryall (originally posted to Flickr as Haggis in a can) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

When the referendum on Scottish independence is held in the autumn of 2014, only residents of Scotland will be eligible to vote.  A recent BBC article found that as a result, almost 400,000 people living north of the border but born in other parts of the UK will get to take part.  However, the 800,000 Scots living in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will not. So, although, Scottish-ness may involve using certain words, liking tartan and eating Haggis, crucially in the political sense, it all boils down to where you live. 

In protest at being disenfranchised, James Wallace, a 23-year-old fellow Dumfries native turned London resident, has launched a petition demanding that expat Scots in other parts of the UK be allowed to participate in the referendum.  Scots ministers say this simply would not be practical.  How, would an electoral register of everyone who considered themselves Scottish be compiled?  Who, after all, is Scottish? You could include all those born in Scotland, or perhaps consider ancestry.  Indeed, it may be that a penchant for Irn Bru and Billy Connolly is enough to earn nationality.  With such a variety of attachments, “it would be absurd to allow anyone who claimed to be Scottish a vote,” says James Mitchell, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde.

A recent report by The Scottish Government found estimated 1.3 million Scottish-born individuals living outside Scotland, and between 19% – 26% of graduates from Scottish institutions found their first job after graduation outside Scotland.  However, no matter their location or the movements across the globe that may occur, a symbolic attachment to Scotland itself remains.  Scholars trying to understand the Scots identity have focused on its symbolism.  McCrone and Bechhofer (2010)explain how in Scotland, allegiance is bound with cultural markers of birth, ancestry and accent, which people use n different ways.   What is clear is that, predicated on a series of national symbols and other attachments, Scottishness as an identity, travels well.

This is a concept considered by Harald Bauder in an early view article of Area, which calls for a reconsideration of the relationship between nationality, mobility and the Nation-State.  Bauder critics the border of a nation, and contests the ability of this territory-based model to incorporate the material practices of human mobility.  In the case of the Scottish referendum, migration outside of the national boundary is considered a detachment to the nation itself.  Bauder’s crucial intervention suggests that identity constructions which have occurred through mobility should not be deemed inferior.  In light of this, “once mobility is no longer scripted as ‘aberrant’, identities will arise from a dialectical process involving the collective social and political practices of mobile (and immobile) people who recognise that they constitute political communities” (2012: 6).  Perhaps in this way, there may be steps towards addressing the conundrum of the referendum.

Harald Bauder, 2012, Nation, ‘migration’ and critical practiceArea, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01129.x

David McCrone & Frank Bechhofer, 2010, Claiming national identityEthnic and Racial Studies 33 921-948

Jon Kelly, The formula for Scottishness, BBC News, 26 October 2012

The Scottish Government, Engaging the Scottish Diaspora: Rationale, Benefits and Challenges, The Scottish Government 5 October 2009

The Geographical Journal Content Alert (New Articles)

The Geographical JournalThe Geographical Journal

Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

 


These early view articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.


Original Articles

How are they othered? Globalisation, identity and violence in an Indian city
IPSITA CHATTERJEE
Article first published online: 14 JUL 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2011.00427.x

Youthful Religiosities

By Sarah Mills

In their recent article in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Hopkins et al (2011) explore the influence of intergenerationality on the development of young people’s religious identities.  They review current trends in new ways of ‘doing’ religion and argue that religious spaces of meaning are becoming increasingly diversified.  Drawing on research with young Christians in Glasgow and their guardians, they highlight the multiple influences on the religiosity of young people and discuss these through themes of correspondence, compliance, challenge and conflict.  They “propose a new conceptual framework for better understanding the complex interplay between intergenerationality and religious beliefs” (p.315) and demonstrate their argument through stressing the importance of “sites such as grandparents’ homes, the journey to and from church, experiences of schooling, youth group practices, peer group relationships and popular culture” in young people’s articulations of their religiosity (p.326).

A number of recent news stories and events highlight the need to take young people’s religiosities seriously and to reflect on the diverse sites, influences and relationships that play a part in developing young people’s religious identities.  Some of these relate to education, for example the recent campaign on the future of RE in schools and the English Baccalaureate.  Others can be seen as features of more formal sites of institutional religion and worship, such as this year’s celebrations marking the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, many of which involve young people.  These short examples highlight how crucial it is to reflect on the range of influences in the formation of religious identities and the complexities of religious beliefs.

 Read Peter Hopkins, Elizabeth Olson, Rachel Pain and Giselle Vincett (2011) ‘Mapping intergenerationalities: the formation of youthful religiosities’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 (2):314-327.

 Read ‘Campaign for the future of RE in schools’ on BBC Online

 View events during 2011 celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible

‘N-gauging’ your Christmas Shopping: indoor leisure and model railways

by Fiona Ferbrache

There are three shopping days left until Christmas and if you are short of ideas of what to buy children, why not take a look at the “Top Toys for Christmas” (Which?, 2010).  This year, “tech gizmos” and electronic gadgets feature heavily, but certain items may remind you of your own wish lists to Santa.  Take a look at the Top Toys of years past (see, Toy Retailers Association); do you recall the popularity of Teletubbies in 1997, shelves full of Ghostbusters in 1988, and 1984 as the year for Care Bears?  The yoyo appears twice in this list of favourites, in 1929 and 1998.

Another popular item is the train set:  In 1914, Hornby manufactured its “0 Gauge” clockwork model trains, while in 1925 it released its first electric train.  1981 saw Lego launch an electric train set, popular on Christmas lists.

Model trains are not just for children, as highlighted by Yarwood and Shaw (2010).  They show that railway modelling is a serious hobby that reflects the identities of its participants – producers and consumers – and involves the construction and running of scale-model trains on layouts comprising track and scenery.  Yarwood and Shaw draw on railway modelling as an empirical example of indoor leisure – hobbies and crafts that “have been neglected by geographers” (p.425).  Listening to the stories that modellers tell about their railway layouts, these geographers argue that model railways, and the way in which they are practiced, deserve closer scrutiny as active forms of representation engaging participants with particular spaces.

As you see, even a Christmas shopping list contains elements of geography.

Yarwood and Shaw (2010) ‘N-gauging’ geographies: craft consumption, indoor leisure and model railways. Area. Vol.42,4 pp.425-433

Which? (2010) Top toys for Christmas 2010 revealed. Which? Guide Online. 29 October, 2010

Toy Retailers Association. Online. Accessed 10 October, 2010

Lifting the veil on the ‘free world’

Muslim woman wearing the Niqab (Veil)

by Michelle Brooks

Recent reporting of the debate on banning the burkha in Belgium has highlighted widespread anxiety over legislating against women who choose to follow this cultural practice. It is proposed that on the first offence women will be fined a small sum of money, however in the second instance women will be imprisoned for a number of days.

Taking into account the relatively miniscule number of women who wear the veil in Belgium, the government risks curbing the harmless practices of a few whilst offending millions across Europe, not just in the Muslim population. The major reason for this bill, which has cross-party support, appears to be security concerns, creating a potentially harmful link in the public consciousness between Muslim women and terrorism. There are many reasons a woman may choose to cover her face in public, commonly in the Muslim world the reason is modesty and the protection of familial social capital.

Much ethnographical research has been done in Geography on issues surrounding the veil and its use in the United Kingdom but notably not so in Belgium. The conflation of the veil and Islam is erroneous in that the veil does not originate in the Muslim world but is a ‘borrowed’ Greek Christian Byzantine tradition adopted during the rapid expansion of the Muslim empire in the 7th century. It is too simplistic to read the use of the veil as symbolic of oppression in every instance though in some countries this is undoubtedly the case. However, in Europe we cannot afford to be so sure each time, as geographical empirical research has repeatedly shown the veil to be amongst other things, a tool of strategic essentialism in which women invest meanings relating to their identity (Dwyer 1999, Mohammad 1999, Gale 2007). Here in the United Kingdom for the moment a ban on the burkha seems unlikely, indeed, based on recent social policy it is more likely to be taxed!

See BBC News story

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8652861.stm

See article by Richard Gale in Geography Compass

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/118530008/PDFSTART

Virtual Conference Report: Day Three (22 Oct, 2009)

by paulabowles UBoulderLibrary_spittoonToday’s papers have focused once more on the key motifs of the conference, that of breaking down borders and indisciplinarity. Nancy Naples (University of Connecticut) uses her paper: ‘Borderlands Studies and Border Theory: Linking Activism and Scholarship for Social Justice’ to highlight just some of the difficulties faced when ‘negotiate[ing] different disciplinary frames, methods, and theoretical assumptions in order to move forward toward collaborative problem solving’. The second paper today entitled ‘Theorizing Borders in a ‘Borderless World’: Globalization, Territory and Identity’ was presented by Alexander Diener (Pepperdine University) and Joshua Hagen (Marshall University). The authors question the assumption that world is becoming increasingly borderless, instead suggesting that state borders continue to ‘remain one of the most basic and visible features of the international system.’ Finally, on the third day of the conference Kivmars Bowling (Wiley-Blackwell) has presented a particularly relevant publishing workshop entitled ‘The Online Author’s Survival Guide’. The daily book prize was awarded to Maeve O’Donovan for her comment on David Crystal’s keynote lecture and the conference day ended in the Second Life cocktail bar.