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Should they stay or should they go? Calais, a beacon of hope for black migrants and a useful ‘New heart of darkness’ for Brexit?

Otele, O (2015) Should they stay or should they go? Calais, a beacon of hope for black migrants and a useful ‘New heart of darkness’ for Brexit? In: Blackness in Britain 2015: 'The Black Special Relationship' - African American Scholarship and its Impact on Black Intellectual Life in Britain, 30 -31 October 2015, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK.

Abstract

Amidst discussions about the fate of Greece that stems from several crises related to Europe’s ability to support its member states in times of economic needs, the question about the circulation and integration of so-called migrants within the European Union has fuelled controversial debates within and outside EU member states. Mass maritime exodus of people of African descent and of people from the Middle East as well as highly publicised series of deaths in the Mediterranean, have stimulated discussions about national identities, European borders and even European Union membership. Britain and France’s stances on border control have ignited old quarrels regarding national identity and sovereignty. As the last stop before crossing the channel to Dover, the French city of Calais has become a beacon of hope for thousands of migrants and the new ‘Heart of Darkness’ for many British and French nationalists. Feud over Calais’ inability to contain desperate or dreaded black bodies has led British Euro-sceptics to further push for referendum. French far right party Front National re-ignited debates about the inability of people of African descent to ever blend in and be part of France’s social fabric. The overall discursive field, including rhetoric and semantics often associated with unchartered territories and in this instance, foreign bodies, reminds us of colonial debates about the uncivilised Other. The paper proposes to examine how this seemingly new phenomenon of maritime mass migration and the ways is which it is re-presented is reminiscent of old discussions if not clichés about British and French alleged racial identities and colonial pasts. The commonality of viewpoints regarding people of African descent in both countries is paradoxically based on competing discourse about citizenship and cultural identities.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2015 10:54
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 13:27
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/6826
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