In my current research I’m now exploring the cultural politics of austerity. This includes both examining forms of resistance, but also critically examining the ways in which resistance gets silenced and suppressed. In connection with this, I’ve been looking at the resurgence of nationalism, xenophobia and cultural conservatism within the present economic climate. I’m also involved in a network of academics, activists and NGOs campaigning against racism and xenophobia. We came together at the Critical Race Scholarship seminar at the University of East London and campaigned around Home Office’s “Go Home” van this summer. This included ‘flash research’ street surveys and letters to the editor. The ‘go home’ slogan evoked the National Front graffiti slogans of the 1970s, and so we were disturbed to see this slogan adopted by the government.
Out of this collaboration, we applied successfully for the ESRC’s Urgency Grants Mechanism, which is a scheme for research which responds to urgent or unforeseen events.
The details of the project follow. My role in the project as a co-investigator will draw on my experience as both a researcher and an activist; I will conduct ethnography of activism; online ethnography of the public debate around the van campaign, including Twitter as a site of struggle (exemplified by the #immigrationoffender and #racistvan hashtags), and work with community organisations in Birmingham to conduct focus groups and interviews. At the end of the project, I’ll also organise some local public events to present the findings of the project and debate the wider implications.
We will be setting up a project blog and will post updates on the project (link to follow).
New research project to examine impacts of
the ‘Go Home’ Campaign
A research team based at the University of Warwick has won a grant to research the wide-ranging impacts of the Home Office ‘Go Home’ immigration campaign.
The team, led by sociologist Dr Hannah Jones, will go beyond the Home Office’s internal evaluation of the ‘Go Home’ van to uncover impacts on local migrant and non-migrant communities, public debate and activism.
The grant, for £200,000 over 18 months, is one of the first successful applications to the Economic and Social Research Council new Urgency Grants Mechanism to support social science research projects responding quickly to urgent or unforeseen events.
The project will be carried out by researchers from universities across the UK and in conjunction with research partners Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network, Migrant Voice, Runnymede Trust and Scottish Refugee Council. Researchers will collaborate with community groups in Barking & Dagenham, Bradford, Birmingham, Cardiff, Ealing & Hounslow, and Glasgow.
Dr Hannah Jones said: “In July 2013, the UK Home Office launched a series of high-profile interventions which directed public attention to an increasing ‘hard line’ from the government on ‘illegal immigration’, including: an advertising campaign in London boroughs calling on migrants with insecure legal status to ‘go home or face arrest’; high-profile immigration checks and raids in public spaces; and pictures of arrests circulated through the Home Office Twitter account using the hashtag #immigrationoffenders. These initiatives have drawn public attention and generated debate and activism in an acute way which needs urgent attention.”
Using a combination of online, textual and visual analysis, large-scale surveys, interviews and participant observation, this project will study the operation, impacts and implications of these initiatives, and the responses to them. The project will engage directly with policy makers, local activists and public debates, including through a series of public events and online dissemination through social media and a project blog.
Rita Chadha, Chief Exec of RAMFEL (Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London), said: “In areas like Barking & Dagenham, where the Go Home Vans toured this summer and where the local authority and councillors were reluctant to speak out against what some viewed as an act of incitement to racial hatred, it is absolutely vital that we develop a strong and robust evidence base to capture and chronicle what local communities think about race and immigration today.
“The Government’s own evaluation report is full of inconsistencies and many continue to doubt the numbers put forward, especially in view of the Home Secretary’s own admission and acceptance that Go Home vans were a failure. We need a way of understanding what the short and long term impact of the Government’s Go Home campaign was on communities, just in the same way as money was invested in understanding the impact of the riots.”
Dr Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust said: “Runnymede is deeply concerned about the impact that recent developments in immigration policy and enforcement has on race relations and access to citizenship for people from minority ethnic communities in the UK. Immigration is a policy area that remains largely driven by ideology and anecdote, and research like this will be exceptionally useful in providing a credible base to begin to tackle this.”
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Senior Press and Communications Manager, University of Warwick, [email protected], 02476 150868, 07824 540863.
1. The full title of the project is ‘“Go Home”: Mapping the unfolding controversy of Home Office Immigration Campaigns’.
2. Investigators on the project are: Dr Hannah Jones, University of Warwick; Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London; Dr William Davies, University of Warwick; Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal, University of Bedfordshire; Dr Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University; Dr Yasmin Gunaratnam, Goldsmiths; Dr Emma Jackson, University of Glasgow; Dr Roiyah Saltus, University of South Wales.
3. An immediate research response to these initiatives, which involved many of the same researchers and others, was reported here: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/home-office-%E2%80%98go-home%E2%80%99-vans-were-%E2%80%98unacceptable%E2%80%99-says-study
4. The Home Office’s evaluation of Operation Vaken (the ‘Go Home’ advertising van) was released on 31 October and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/254411/Operation_Vaken_Evaluation_Report.pdf
5. More details on the ESRC Pilot Urgency Grants Mechanism can be found here: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/funding-opportunities/27006/urgency-grants-mechanism.aspx The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk
6. For further details of the research project, please contact Hannah Jones, [email protected]