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Immigration law’s racial architecture

Chapter 2 provides an account of the emergence of the legal category of alien and questions the idea that there is a clear distinction between the categories of subject and alien in colonial contexts. The legal category of alien contributed to the institutionalisation of a hierarchy of people in a context of British colonial expansion. Immigration laws passed in the colonies which targeted racialised subjects were at times clumsily disguised through the use of apparently race-neutral provisions. Such concealment of racism was in the service of maintaining the lie of the unity of the British Empire. In the early 1900s, mirroring immigration legislation in the colonies, the 1905 Aliens Act was passed in Britain with the purpose of preventing the entry of poor Jewish people fleeing persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. Although British subjects in the colonies were not its targets, it was a product of the British Empire and legislators did not forget its mechanisms when it came to the task of drafting future immigration legislation targeted at racialised colony and Commonwealth citizens.

in (B)ordering Britain
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A baseline of comparison

Chapter 2 first details the framework of analysis, ‘self-perpetuating technologies of religious synthesis’, a theory which links combinations of societal catalysts to the development of specific religious trends. The ethnographic data illustrates that these ‘technologies’ are triggered in reaction to societal catalysts, resulting in religious transformations that function as ‘self-perpetuating mechanisms’ for the wider religious tradition. The individual ‘technologies’ are drawn from two discourses: first, the ‘politics of syncretism’, incorporating appropriation, absorption, acculturation, transfiguration, hybridisation and transfiguring hybridisation; and second, a broadening interpretation of Hobsbawm and Ranger’s ‘invention of tradition’, including the reinvention, reinterpretation, inversion and Sinification of tradition. The chapter then details essential information concerning the historical development of Singapore and Malaysia’s secular and religious landscapes. In highlighting Japanese massacres in both locations during the Second World War; religious harmony, urban redevelopment, the Master Plan for land use of 1965 and the subsequent destruction of cemeteries in Singapore vis-à-vis Malay ‘special rights’ and the active promotion of Malay interests under the New Economic Policy (1971) and the National Development Policy (1990), a diverse selection of societal catalysts later incorporated into the broader analysis are introduced. The chapter concludes with a summary of the book’s structure and chapter outlines.

in Voices from the Underworld

In the final chapter, as neither Xie Bian nor Fan Wujiu’s popular mythology originated in either Anxi or Penang, and allowing for the complexities of cultural transmission, the chapter begins by proposing the most likely timeline and trajectory of the Underworld tradition’s geographical spread, both in and between Malaysia and Singapore. The versatility of the framework of analysis is then demonstrated by being applied to religious developments over a corresponding timeframe in Taiwan to explain why a similar Underworld tradition has not developed there. The potential benefits of combining ontological, dialogic, participatory and interpretative approaches to the study of religious and esoteric traditions are then clarified and discussed, and final conclusions drawn.

in Voices from the Underworld

Relocating to China, Chapter 10 centres on Anxi Chenghuangmiao. The temple’s early history and its 1990 relocation from Anxi city centre to the Fengshan Scenic Tourism Area above the graves of Xie Bian and Fan Wujiu are critically investigated, as are its atypical Tua Di Ya Pek mythologies. Analysed in context of the invention and commoditisation of tradition and of China’s changing cultural policies, Anxi Chenghuangmiao’s reinvention is associated with self-perpetuating its own City God tradition, and to Tua Di Ya Pek’s recent overseas popularisation. Continuing this line of enquiry, the chapter concludes by describing the opening of a new annex in front of Xie Bian and Fan Wujiu’s graves, an annex first conceptualised in Klang, Malaysia, and evaluating the contestation of meaning and counterclaims to provenance of the new ritual site.

in Voices from the Underworld
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Law, race and empire

(B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. In announcing itself as post-colonial through immigration and nationality laws passed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Britain cut itself off symbolically and physically from its colonies and the Commonwealth, taking with it what it had plundered. This imperial vanishing act cast Britain’s colonial history into the shadows. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out. In fact, immigration laws are acts of colonial seizure and violence. They obstruct the vast majority of racialised people from accessing wealth amassed in the course of colonial conquest. Regardless of what the law, media and political discourse dictate, people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

Culturally speaking, in the context of Euro-American societies, being related as kin is perceived as a self-evident, given and ‘fixed’ relationship. Reproduction lies at the heart of making such relationships; the birth of a biological child is conceptualized as the beginning of the next generation in a long line of generations going back through time. However, ‘making kin’ might be harder for some than for others. Based on original empirical data (cross-generational interviews), this chapter investigates how kin relationship comes into being in relationships between lesbian daughters and their parents in the context of childbirth through donor insemination. It looks specifically at the role of genes, biology and pregnancy in shaping and making kinship affinities in such family contexts. The chapter highlights that the making of the next generation might, for some, be a precarious and uncertain pursuit, rather than a given, self-evident process.

in Bodily interventions and intimate labour

The purpose of this chapter is to analyse bioprecarity in terms of two dimensions of Foucault’s biopolitics, categorization and subjectivization (Foucault, 1977, 1982, 2002, 2008). With examples of the precarious lives of trans people, especially those of colour, I engage with the conceptual arguments of Foucault, Judith Butler (1997, 2009) and Kimberlé Crenshaw (1991) regarding the relation between categorical framing and bioprecarity. The chapter explores how subjects as bodily selves are bound into population control and therefore normalized and regulated (Spade, 2011), how norms and regulations create bioprecarious situations for these bodily selves (Butler and Athanasiou, 2013), the role of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991) in creating such precarious positions and, finally, how such bioprecarity might be avoided (Lorey, 2010; Shotwell, 2016; Weheliye, 2014).

in Bodily interventions and intimate labour
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Bioprecarity in the context of humanitarian surgical missions

Paediatric heart surgery missions define an emergent, high-tech form of medical humanitarianism characterized by their focus not on populations in crisis, but on broken body parts – in this case, damaged paediatric hearts. Comprised of specialists from the world’s most elite medical centres, mission teams make visits to poor countries to perform highly specialized and otherwise prohibitively expensive surgical procedures on children with few alternatives for survival. A team’s success is measured in terms of patient volume, surgical complexity and the probability of the patient being well enough to leave the hospital within thirty days. This chapter explores the forms of bioprecarity that both precede and follow mission visits and that inadvertently affect the very patients whose surgeries are publicly billed as ‘successes’. As much as surgical missions aim to repair paediatric bodies in distress, they, too, produce new anxieties, uncertainties and biological vulnerabilities for patients and their families that are often visible only long after missions depart from the host country. These findings emerged from thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Honduras, where I carried out observations and interviews in public hospitals before, during, and after visits by paediatric heart surgery missions and in the homes of surgical patients.

in Bodily interventions and intimate labour
Understanding bioprecarity

This volume is concerned with the ways in which bioprecarity, here understood as the vulnerabilization of people as embodied selves, is created through regulations and norms that encourage individuals to seek or provide bodily interventions of different kinds. We explore this in particular in relation to intimacy and intimate labour, such as in the making of families and kin and in various forms of care work. Advances in biotechnology, medical tourism and the visibilization of minoritized communities have resulted in unsettling the norms around the gendered body, intimate relations and intimate labour. Bodily interventions have sociocultural meanings and consequences both for those who seek such interventions and for those who provide the intimate labour in conducting them. The purpose of this volume is to explore these. This exploration involves sociocultural questions of boundary work, of privilege, of bodily ownership, of the multiple meanings of want (understood both as desire, for example the desire to have children or to change one’s bodily appearance; and as need – as in economic need – which often prompts people to undertake migration and/or intimate labour). It also raises questions about different kinds of vulnerabilities, for those who engage, and those who engage in, intimate labour. We use the term ‘bioprecarity’ to analyse those vulnerabilities.

Chapter 1 sets out the racial infrastructure of Britain’s immigration law regime, explaining the relationship between colonialism, migration and law. British imperial administrations depended on the exploitation of hierarchies based on supposed differences between categories of people. The use of race as an ordering principle played an important part in enabling and justifying colonialism. I trace the line between the honing of processes of categorisation in the colonial era and immigration law as a practice of racial ordering in modern Britain. I argue that British immigration law is a continuation of colonial power as enacted in the former British Empire. The categorisation of people into those with and without rights of entry and stay sustains and reproduces colonial racial hierarchies. Contemporary immigration law thus maintains the global racial order established by colonialism, whereby racialised populations are disproportionately deprived of access to resources, healthcare, safety and opportunity and are systematically and disproportionately made vulnerable to harm and premature death. In this context recognition and refusal decisions in relation to claims for immigration status in Britain are the everyday work of the colonial state.

in (B)ordering Britain