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Title: Migrant belonging in international relations : tracing the reflection of international relations' autochthonous foundations in British housing discourse
Author: Ehata, Rebecca
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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Why is International Relations (IR) silent on the issue of belonging? Conventional IR appears to be prevented from engaging with the concept of belonging by the inside-outside ontology on which it draws and its assumption of a foundational difference between inside and outside, which are understood to be neatly separated and mutually exclusive. Since belonging describes the relationship between individuals and the community and community is restricted to the inside sphere, it is beyond conventional IR’s remit. In its silence and relegation of belonging to the inside, however, we see the traces of what amounts to an implicit discourse of belonging. The concept of autochthony appears to offer a mirror-image reflection of conventional IR’s assumptions about belonging. Autochthony discourse also sees belonging as strictly limited to the community located on the inside of the binary, and here too the demarcation of inside from outside is considered to be foundational. As such, autochthony seems to provide a credible approximation of what IR’s implicit discourse of belonging might look like, if made explicit. The migrant represents a dislocatory figure for both of these accounts of belonging and the inside-outside ontology on which they are grounded. Where does she belong in an inside-outside configuration of the social? Moreover, as a marker of the outside but located on the inside, she contradicts the idea that the two spheres are separate and exclusive. Using British housing discourse as an example of an active discourse of autochthony, this thesis explores the puzzle of how migrants and the questions which they raise about the location of belonging are dealt with in an inside-outside discourse. The thesis generates three key findings which have relevance for conventional IR theorising. Firstly, the account of belonging which autochthony discourse produces is partial, impoverished and highly exclusionary. In this account, migrants represent the ultimate outsider. Secondly, the analysis demonstrates the impossibility of finalising the separation of inside from outside. Attempts to differentiate between the two require ongoing political interventions, which refutes the notion of foundational difference. Finally, in the absence of a foundational difference between inside and outside, IR needs to engage with the concept of belonging, since its continued silence seems to endorse an autochthonous discourse and the exclusionary politics of belonging which that entails.
Supervisor: Lawler, Peter; Pin-Fat, Veronique Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International Relations ; Belonging ; Migrants ; UK ; Housing