Affect and Authority in Immigration Detention
Punishment & Society, Online first doi.org/10.1177/1462474518803321
19 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018
Date Written: 2018
Drawing on a long-term research project across a number of British Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), this article considers the relationship between authority and affect. In contrast to much criminological literature on the prison, which advances a liberal political account in which power is constantly negotiated and based on mutual recognition, in detention, this article suggests, staff authority rests on an abrogation of their self rather than engagement with the other. Officers turn away (deny) and switch off (emotionally withdraw) from those before them in order to do their job. In these terms, we bear witness to the affective nature of wielding power at the border. Operating without a clear basis of moral legitimacy, officer testimonies make clear, is painful and corrosive, for staff and for detainees. It may work, in other words, but at what cost?
Keywords: affect, authority, immigration removal centres, legitimacy, liberalism, staff
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