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Abstracts and Bio-data

Seminar 3: ‘Security/Insecurity Racism, Xenophobia, Gender and Migration’

Thursday 27th September 2012

Abstracts and Bio-data

Leah Bassel, Leicester University: “The Political Promise of Insecurity: Migrant Women at the Intersections”

Gender equality issues have often been instrumentalised within debates that focus overwhelmingly on attitudes, beliefs and practices ascribed to Muslims and women’s rights. This paper focuses on democratic alternatives to current policy debates that portray Muslim migrant women as victims and men as violent transgressors. In particular, I propose untangling two forms of border drawing – ‘internal’ and ‘external’ – that are elided in debates opposing culture to women’s rights. When the terms ‘Muslim’ and ‘immigrant’ are used interchangeably, legal status and different effects of ‘internal’ and ‘external’ border practices are often ignored. When untangled, we can consider the ways in which their intersections, in the experiences of women who are both Muslims and migrants, can provide a site for an alternative democratic politics that unsettles these debates and enlarges the space for women as democratic agents.

Leah Bassel is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leicester. She was previously lecturer in Sociology at City University, London and held Postdoctoral Research Fellowships at the Refugee Studies Centre/Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford and with the Group for the Study of Ethnicity, Racism, Migration and Exclusion at the Institute of Sociology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in Belgium. Before studying at Oxford, Leah was part of an emergency outreach team of workers in Paris providing humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers. She also set up circus camp project for refugee youth which then became an annual event. Leah’s work focuses on gender, migration and citizenship. She has published widely and her most recent work is a full-length study entitled Refugee Women: Beyond Gender versus Culture (Routledge, 2012).

Zrinka Bralo: The Forum (formerly Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum): “Discourses of securitisation of migration and their impacts on migrant rights

Securitisation of migration discourse has huge impact on the treatment and rights of migrants in general and its post 9/11 expression has additional impact on specific groups in particular. The key policy development is the Prevent Strategy 2007. It was reviewed and refocused in 2011 with the clear statement that the new “Prevent will make a clearer distinction between our counter-terrorist work and our integration strategy…Failure to appreciate the distinction risks securitising integration and reducing the chances of our success”. The new integration policy was announced around the same time as the launch of the Prevent Review, but so far it has failed to address the damage done by the securitisation that started in the 1990s and gained momentum after 9/11. This presentation will address issues that the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF) has to deal with in its work as a result of these policies and the impact that the securitisation of immigration has on the lives of migrants attempting to settle in London. The MRCF provides support, advice and training to wide range of immigrants: from refused asylum seekers to highly skilled labour migrants. Its main aim is to aid integration of individuals and communities in a meaningful way. The Forum also provides a platform for migrant voices to be heard and to influence policies and perceptions impacting on their lives.

Zrinka Bralo is the Executive Director of Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum. She is originally from Sarajevo where she was a journalist. She has been involved with refugee and human rights since she was exiled to the UK in 1993. She has served as a commissioner of the Independent Asylum Commission, the most comprehensive review of the UK protection system and is a winner of the 2011 Voices Of Courage Award by the Women's Refugee Commission in New York. Zrinka is a regular contributor to OpenDemocracy, The Guardian and other organs of the UK and international press.

Brigitte Beauzamy, University of Warwick: “Migration Crisis, Security Practices and Xenophobia: The Case of Post-Arab Spring France”

French immigration policies have been characterized by a steady repressive orientation, despite the renewal of policy discourses in favour of “chosen immigration” which accompanied the coming to power of President Nicolas Sarkozy, which was however soon buried. One pillar of this policy orientation is the fight against irregular immigration, which has been the topic of many policy initiatives since the 1990s, but also of numerous well-publicized protest movements inscribing the cause of the “sans-papiers” in the public debate for almost two decades.

The Arab Spring was largely unforeseen from the part of the French government, and its reaction to the Tunisian uprising was firstly one of caution and – by and large – of inaction. Yet when Tunisian migrants fled to France in the wake of the regime change, the situation was framed as a migration crisis and led to a critical reappraisal of French security practices, in a context where opponents emphasized the underlying xenophobia of policies aimed at policing migrants.

Brigitte Beauzamy is nearing the end of a two-year Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Warwick, based in the Department of Politics and International Studies. She is the incoming editor of OpenSecurity. Brigitte was educated at the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in Paris, gaining a PhD in Sociology from that institution. Her latest publications include: La Créativité altermondialiste : discours, organisation, action directe (Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2012) ; “Continuities of Fascist Discourses, Discontinuities of Extreme-Right Political Actors? Overt and Covert Anti-Semitism in the Contemporary French Radical Right”, in Ruth Wodak and John E. Richardson, Analysing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text (Routledge 2012).

Irene Zempi, University of Leicester: “Islamophobia Veiled as ‘Liberation’: The Crimininalisation of the Muslim Veil in Europe”

This paper examines the parameters of the face veil ban in France and its ripple effects on other European countries including the UK. It sheds fresh light on the impact of this piece of legislation upon Muslim women in veil. In particular, the paper focuses on the experiences of migrant Arab Muslim women, such as Somali refugee women, who have migrated to the UK. It highlights the vulnerability of veiled Muslim women who live in fear of Islamophobic attacks, feel discriminated against, stigmatised as ‘criminals’ and forced into assimilation. The paper also examines the ‘appropriateness’ of the Muslim veil in the pretext of national security, gender equality, secularism, multiculturalism and the fear of Islamist extremism.

Irene Zempi holds a Master’s degree in Criminology (with Distinction) from University of Leicester and a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in Sociology from Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens. Her research interests lie at the intersections of hate crime, victimisation and religion. Irene is studying for her PhD in Criminology under the supervision of Dr Chakraborti and Mr Garland. Concurrently, she is delivering marking and teaching support to the Department's campus-based and distance learning programmes. Her publications include: Chakraborti, N. and Zempi, I. (2012) 'The Veil under Attack: Gendered Dimensions of Islamophobic Victimisation' International Review of Victimology 18 (3).