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    Sentencing ‘unwanted’ migrants: the border, racism, and narrating punishability

    Lousley, Gemma (2021) Sentencing ‘unwanted’ migrants: the border, racism, and narrating punishability. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Criminologists researching migration and border control have documented how, in recent years, the police, courts and prisons in England and Wales have been reshaped and transformed as they have been injected with practices of immigration enforcement. In this thesis I suggest that alongside such overt changes, the border might also be permeating the criminal justice system in a more subtle and insidious way. Specifically, I focus on the racialised narratives circulated by the United Kingdom government and the media in the contemporary era that work to problematise non-white and ‘not quite white’ migrants and justify their targeting by the direct activities of border enforcement: we can understand these as dominant or hegemonic narratives of bordering. In the thesis, I explore how these dominant, racialised narratives are being tapped into and appealed to by legal professionals involved in one specific stage of the court process: the practice of the sentencing hearing. Drawing on observations conducted across a two-year period, in three Crown Courts in London, I show how racialised narratives of bordering are being mobilised in the individual narratives delivered by legal professionals during the sentencing hearing to portray non-white and ‘not quite white’ migrants as inherently suspect and deviant, to fix them as undesirable in themselves, in order to help produce them as punishable. I also demonstrate, conversely, how these narratives are being negotiated and negated in various ways to insist that defendants are not intrinsically bad and deviant but, in fact, are good and deserving migrants – in order to assert that they can be sanctioned less severely. I argue, therefore, that in sentencing hearings for these ‘unwanted’ migrants, dominant, racialised narratives of bordering have become woven into the construction and negotiation of defendants’ punishability. In uncovering how these narratives have become embedded in the sentencing process my research contributes to the rapidly expanding criminological sub-field of ‘border criminology’, as it enhances our understanding of the ways in which border control is altering and reshaping the contemporary criminal justice system. At the same time, it contributes to the literature on racism, the courts and sentencing, by demonstrating that racial demarcation and racist expression run through and enable the punishment of migrants who are deemed unwelcome.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2021 14:50
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:04


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