1st Edition

Activism and the Detention of Migrants The Law and Politics of Immigration Detention

By Tom Kemp Copyright 2024
    240 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is an empirically grounded, critical engagement with the politics of immigration detention and deportation.

    Focusing on the constitutive tensions and political generativity within the activist practices of the anti-detention movement, this book examines the distinction between representational and post-representational political sensibilities. Representational politics centres on representing the interests of disenfranchised people to the state and public and operates primarily within the regime of immigration law. Post-representational politics focuses on working collaboratively with those in detention, to resist and challenge the deportation system. Since representational politics is the predominant political imaginary of migrant rights campaigning, the book focuses on illustrating and evaluating the role of post-representational politics. The book argues that the concept of post-representational politics is important for understanding and participating in radical opposition to state racism. This argument rests on the expanded possibilities it motivates of engaging with and resisting institutions that are poised to co-opt resistance; the attention it fosters to the situated power dynamics of political activities that collaborate with imprisoned people; and its sensitivity to the politically and conceptually generative capacities of everyday, embodied practices of resistance. To make this argument, this book employs innovative methodology to illuminate and engage with the practice-based thinking of activist movements about the concepts of solidarity, hospitality, witnessing and accountability.

    This book will be of interest to scholars and activists with interests in socio-legal studies of immigration and refugee law, as well as others in social movement studies, critical legal studies, border criminology and critical theory.

    Prologue 1

    1 Introduction 8

    2 Immigration Detention and Anti-Detention Activism 39

    3 Representation and Post-Representational Politics 71

    4 Post-Representational Solidarity in Anti-Detention Protest 107

    5 The Hospitality Politics of Immigration Detention Visiting 138

    6 Post-Representational Witnessing in the Anti-Detention Movement 164

    7 Accountability and Affinity in Post-Representational Politics 194

    8 Conclusion 216

    Acknowledgements 227

    Index 228


    Tom Kemp is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, UK.