Westminster Sociology Open Talks 2016-17: Perspectives on Migration

 

Date: Thursday 2nd February

Time: 5pm

Location: Regent Street room 412

Westminster Sociology Open Talks in 2016-17  bring together Sociology staff with external speakers to explore a shared topic of interest. In the third talk of the academic year, Dorrie Chetty is joined by Dr Clifton Evers from Newcastle University. Clifton will be discussing his ethnographic work on Australian expats in China, exploring how straight white masculinity travels and mutates with transnational mobility. Dorrie will draw on interviews with migrants and migrant organisations to consider the impacts of ‘crisis talk’.

This event is open to academics, students and anyone else who’s interested in this important topic. External attendees should email h.stephansen@westminster.ac.uk in advance. As usual, refreshments will be provided.

Abstracts:

Clifton Evers: Transnational mutating masculinities and mobile media

In the past few decades increasing numbers of people work and live across countries in an effort to stay employed and improve their lives. For some, there is ‘transnational’ mobility. Research to-date about transnational mobility, masculinity, and Australia tend to focus on those moving to this country and how the new arrivals negotiate the hegemony of white straight Australian masculinity and the associated values, tropes, and practices. What has been found is that the hegemony is remaining rock solid. However, what happens when the white straight Australian men engage in transnational mobility as they take up privileged employment opportunities and expatriate life around the world? How does their version of masculinity travel and mutate? Reflecting on ethnographic work conducted over a five-year period in China I show how powerful privileges are tightly clung to, as well as how the men respond when their privileges are challenged and the privileges slip through their fingers or are taken. The presentation includes discussion of these men’s use of ‘mobile media’ – social media and smartphones – to negotiate the dynamics of transnational mutating masculinities.

Dorrie Chetty:  ‘Crisis talk’ in Migration discourses: Impact on UK migrants and migrant NGOs

The main aim of the research is to gain an understanding of how ‘crisis talk’ has structured migrant discourses and in the process affected migrants and migrant organisations. It has two main objectives: The first is to explore the ways in which a focus on ‘crisis talk’ when referring to migrants and migration has impacted on migrants’ lives, and the second to examine how migrant organisations have responded to the ‘crisis talk’.  Referring to migration as a humanitarian crisis can evoke feelings of pity and the need for urgent action to rescue migrants, but when narratives of migration focus on numbers and linked to economic crisis, then migrants can be perceived mainly as a drain to resources, evoking sentiments of self-protection and the need for increasing control of national borders – feelings that are reinforced by the fear of terrorists being potentially amongst migrants.   A 2008 study highlighted the importance of understanding the relationship between recent immigration and social cohesion within the context of other social and economic transformations that affect everyday life for UK citizens (Hickman et al 2008).  A recent Joseph Rowntree report on poverty has indicated a strong correlation between poverty and insecurity (Tinson et al 2016:11).

Based on interviews with migrants and migrant organisations this research highlights the impact of ‘crisis talk’ on migrants and migrant organisations.  The paper argues that the association of ‘crisis talk’ with migration has served to obfuscate the links between deprivation and insecurity.  Furthermore, this association has resulted in exploiting people’s feelings of insecurity, thereby playing a significant role in evoking sentiments of protection based on ‘fear of the Other’, with the potential of serious implications for social cohesion.  The study therefore seeks an understanding of the reported rise in xenophobia and racial violence, in relation to economic inequalities, deprivation and insecurity.

 

 

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