Chapter 6 investigates how the promise of ‘inclusion’ also works to produce and shape borders. This explores how the ‘good’, familial or domesticated migrant is imagined. To do so, the chapter develops key debates on visuality to further understand how visuals (looking, imaging, being seen) are conditioned by colonial rule. Pushing forward recent work on borders and visuality, it shows how the colonial history of photography shapes border regimes in Britain such as in the hostile welcome of child refugees. In order to discover what the contemporary ‘good’ and ‘familial’ migrant looks like, the chapter explores how humanitarian approaches to the ‘refugee crisis’ in Britain and Europe have sought to photograph migrants in order to ‘humanise’ them. The ‘good’ migrant is imagined as a contributor, someone who brings ‘value’, happiness and heteronormative love into the (British) nation. The chapter shows how the politics of the included/domesticated migrant further justifies violence against ‘bad’ migrants and racialised citizens (the illegal, the terrorist, the unintegrated woman). It thus shows how humanitarianism and ‘compassionate nationalist’ projects of welcome continue to reproduce colonial hierarchies of whiteness.
This chapter introduces the main puzzle and themes of the book. It explores how borders and family connect in our contemporary moment before illustrating how this reveals the entanglements of empire. It discusses how intimacy and family are bordered and how this energises bordering. This establishes how the book is not only concerned with the violence done to family by borders, but also how claims to family can justify acts of bordering (for example, in the name of protecting ‘real’ family). It then sets out the main contribution of the book and how it relates to key debates in international politics, postcolonial feminist theory and migration studies. It also introduces key concepts and an overview of the archival and genealogical research approach underpinning the book.
Whilst the previous five chapters examine the adaption of colonial rule in Britain through family/borders, chapter 7 turns to practices of contestation and resistance. It draws from bell hooks’s provocation that ‘looking back’ was always/already a central strategy against racist subjugation historically and continues today – even in the face of insurmountable violence. Whilst focused primarily on visuality, this offers reflections on how various struggles contest the colonial politics of mobility, family, borders more broadly and how we can think this relationship differently. The chapter proposes three different ways of ‘looking back’: resistance, escape and decolonial aesthesis. Whilst all offer powerful challenges to the colonial power of borders and family, decolonial aesthesis, linked to a broader decolonial politics, offers important lessons for how we might think family and love other than with empire and colonial hierarchies of the human.
Drawing upon the theory of domestication outlined in chapter 1, chapter 2 traces the history of family and borders across the British Empire from the early nineteenth century. This demonstrates how family was central to the making of the Empire and how this was tied to mobility. This chapter develops debates in migration and border studies by showing how borders were a key device of colonial and imperial rule. It shows how bordering formed around the management of undomesticated movement – that which either ran counter to the expansion of the state, emergent imperial capitalism, or the racialised-sexualised order of the colonial administration. This chapter shows that what we come to know as immigration policy/law was experimented with in the control of movement across imperial space before being institutionalised in the British metropole from 1905. The chapter also explores how immigration and citizenship law worked to arrange and dismantle intimacies of people moving from (ex)colonies to Britain throughout the mid/late twentieth century. This shows how bordering emerged and continues as a colonial project within Britain.
Chapter 4 explores the significance of attempts to deprive criminals convicted of child sexual exploitation offences or ‘grooming’ of their citizenship. The case of grooming is used to explore where borders go, who they ‘stick’ to and what this tells us about the continuity of colonial hierarchies of race in Britain. Contributing to debates on race, masculinity and violence, this explores how monsters are created in contemporary Britain – in the figure of the ISIS terrorist, the street groomer, the gang member. The chapter examines how discovering monsters demands their eradication, such as in the form of deprivation, deportation and assassination. In the case of grooming, it is shown how this is made exceptional as a racial crime, one committed by dangerous ‘Asian’ and ‘Muslim men’ against ‘white girls’. Making certain people into monsters justifies the use of exceptional acts such as the deprivation of citizenship, which shape the treatment of all naturalised and racialised citizens. The chapter then shows how the state’s attempt to ‘protect’ white girls by depriving convicted criminals of their citizenship shares much in common with the far right/white nationalists’ appeals to protect the white family against deviant and perverse ‘invaders’.
Chapter 3 demonstrates how the colonial politics of family and borders is adapted and resuscitated in contemporary Britain. It traces debates around sham marriage to explore how ideas of ‘genuine’ family and ‘subsisting’ relationships are coded with racial difference. In doing this, the chapter explores how colonial racism has adapted through the emergence of the ‘hostile environment’ and the Global War on Terror to make Muslim communities and other racialised populations a source of suspect intimacies. Appeals to modern liberal ‘love’ are used to present black, Asian and Muslim communities as ‘backwards’ and bound to underdeveloped forms of kinship (i.e. as undomesticated). Whilst existing studies of sham marriage focus on how borders and immigration policies work to exclude racialised migrants, this chapter analyses how border practices such as family migration visas connect up with the policing of settled communities. This is often arranged around attempts to save at-risk/risky ‘unintegrated’ women. Examples include forced marriages strategies, or in the move to monitor Muslim family patterns as part of the detection of radicalisation in the counter-terrorism programme Prevent. I call such interventions ‘intimate borders’.
Chapter 4 looks at the forms of banter and catcalling that were such a banal and regular feature of life in Neapolitan street markets. This sexualised and darkly humorous language was invoked on pavements as part of a performance of locally hegemonic masculinities, and in response to paranoias about racial intimacy. The differential experiences of the women in street markets – black women, white Neapolitan women, those working in the market or those passing through – revealed key insights about interconnected patterns of sexual conventions and racialised domination in Napoli. These conventions uncovered a melancholic recollection of colonialism and US military occupation – that continued to demarcate the city in subtle ways – and laid the groundwork for negotiating and managing contemporary fears around racial intimacy.
Chapter 6 moves away from the everyday transcultural negotiations of the previous chapters, which mostly took place between street vendors and their customers, to explore the threat to livelihood faced by the book’s research participants during 2012. The chapter opens with an examination of the widespread racist formulae through which black street vendors in particular were framed as a threat in Napoli. It then focuses on the joking practices of transcultural masculine solidarity against the police as an infrapolitical talk, which both subverted and reinforced hegemonic ideas about black masculinity, migrants, entitlement and belonging.
Napoli is introduced as somewhere from which to think about racism and language within a wider context of migration and austerity. Using the work of postcolonial theorists Edouard Glissant and Achille Mbembe, the introduction proposes thinking about Napoli as a place on the edge of the Mediterranean. It argues that, in Napoli, everyday multilingual encounters in multiethnic parts of the city were mediated by the spectacle of migrant deaths at sea. The edgy talk that occurred in the shadow of a Mediterranean necropolitics – where people were considered disposable and therefore killable – was infused by an understanding of what was at stake when communication was rendered impossible. Edginess constituted forms of talk that were precarious, risky and occasionally frightening, but also exhilarating, sometimes funny, and related to the possibility of survival.
Chapter 1 presents a history of culture and communication in Napoli. It explores the significance of multilingual talk in everyday interactions in Neapolitan street markets as a result of overlapping histories of foreign domination, cultural hybridisation, Italian nation-building, fascism, wounded local pride and migration. The chapter argues that multilingual talk shaped transcultural negotiations in a context where localised historic inequalities and power dynamics were encountering an ever-increasing complexity of human movement, global heterogeneity and attendant racist responses. In order to examine this more closely, connections are drawn between the histories of culture and communication in the city and the contemporary multilingual dynamics of the ever-evolving street markets where the fieldwork was conducted. This is a selective account that considers social and political histories of the city as they relate to the question of talk and language use.