“When you become a city that has to give hospitality to the experiences of trauma and torture, and become a world city – not one that has sent people out as traumatised bodies as happened from the clearances and the poverty of the 1930s in Glasgow – but actually starts to receive that back in the early 20th Century, then your narrative as a city has to change, and change is always a really tricky process.”
Bermo carries my two year old son on one shoulder as we stroll down the main street in Antwerp, the beautiful medieval city in Belgium. My son uses Bermo’s soft turban as a place to rest his head, struggling to keep his eyes open.
In recent years border walls have been built in different parts of the world in order to stop irregular migration. However, barriers for migrants are not only constructed physically but also discursively in political discourses.
I’d just handed the baby over to my partner after the breakfast shift last Thursday morning when a friend messaged me. Activists had tweeted that an immigration enforcement raid on Kenmure Street in Pollokshields was being blocked by local people. My friend lives on the other side of town, but I live round the corner.
Around 9.30am on Thursday 13 May I checked my phone for messages, as I was about to start making preparations for Eid dinner later that evening. One of the No Evictions Network activists had posted a photo of an immigration enforcement van in Kenmure Street in Pollokshields and said that he was going to investigate what was happening, and asked others in the network to come down to support him.
As socially committed and Spain-based researchers, we have long been amazed by the rhetorical power of the integration discourse (in this case, immigrant integration). This discourse has charmed and brought together people with different political orientations, even seducing numerous activists who usually adopt radically critical stances towards existing social oppressions (for example, capitalism).