Friday, 4 February 2011

Visas and consultation: some more evidence


Following on from last Friday's blog about the student visa consultation, evidence has continued to emerge of deeply worrying practices at Britain's points of entry.

Take this example of a conference report from the journal Gender and Education, issue 6 (2010):

Unfortunately, it was both troubling and instructive that the issues of regulation and resistance thematically underpinning the conference were brought into dramatic relief before the conference even began when the plenary panellist Grace Livingstone, Associate Professor of African American Studies at University of Puget Sound in Seattle, was detained at Heathrow airport for 11 hours the Saturday before the conference. Unable to reach the organisers at the weekend, and despite traveling legally with a US Green Card, passport control queried Grace's invitation to speak at a university event, and eventually refused her entry ordering her on a plane back to Seattle. Shocked and distressed, the organisers worked with Grace and her university, making every effort to have her return to London in time for the panel. However, unable to sort out immigration in the short timeframe we resorted to a teleconference, where Grace delivered a powerful talk on racial marginalisation. These events were a visceral reminder of the need for collective resistance to what Foucault called the 'dividing practices' that organise not only the contemporary profiling practices of international immigration policy, but educational experiences as well.
Other Americans have apparently been detained for hours before being asked to prove their identity on Facebook, of all places! Even if you strip away some of the theoretical superstructure of the above, t's just a hugely worrying employment of arbitrary power which seems to have no rime nor reason to it. It'll get worse under the new proposals.

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