Immigration laws in Britain are racist

Free Events

(B)ordering Britain: Law, Race & Empire

12:00 pm - 1:15 pm | 26 November 2020
Online | Free

(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 postcolonial through immigration and nationality laws passed in the 60s, 70s and 80s, 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 colonial 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.

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Illustration by: Eleanor Shakespeare


Nadine El-Enany teaches and researches at Birkbeck Law School and co-directs the Centre for Research on Race and Law. She is author of (B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire (Manchester University Press, 2020).

Patricia Tuitt is a legal academic working within the field of postcolonial studies. Formerly Professor and Dean of the School of Law at Birkbeck, University of London, she now curates an online resource, consisting of academic articles, book reviews and blog posts. Her publications include the monographs, False Images: Law’s Construction of the Refugee (1996) and Race, Law, Resistance (2004). She is co-editor of Critical Beings: Law, Nation and the Global Legal Subject (2004) and Crime Fiction and the Law (2016). Recent published articles include Walter Benjamin, Race and the Critique of Rights (2019) and European Empires in Conflict: The Brexit Years (2020). She was recently elected to serve on the Policy Council at Liberty.

Header Illustration by: Eleanor Shakespeare

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