Bordering Britain

Law, race and empire

By Nadine El-Enany

Bordering Britain


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4542-0
  • Pages: 312
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: March 2020
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Emigration & Immigration, British Empire, Asylum Law, Immigration Law, Society & social sciences / Migration, immigration & emigration


(B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. In announcing itself as postcolonial through immigration and nationality laws passed in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Britain cut itself off symbolically and physically from its colonies and the Commonwealth, taking with it what it had plundered. This imperial vanishing act cast Britain's colonial history into the shadows. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out. In fact, immigration laws are acts of colonial seizure and violence. They obstruct the vast majority of racialised people from accessing colonial wealth amassed in the course of colonial conquest. Regardless of what the law, media and political discourse dictate, people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.


"Colonialism never really ends. The formerly colonized remain the targets of imperial power long after their lands have been looted. The concentration of wealth in the hands of white elites demands no less. (B)ordering Britain tells the legal story of an unbroken colonization where citizenship itself is the structure created to maintain the racial lines of colonial and capitalist accumulation. Close the gates, slow the exodus from the colonies to a trickle, and keep those who made it in under conditions of precarity: this is the basis of immigration and asylum law. El-Enany fearlessly tracks the imperial line in law from the first immigration and asylum laws to the Windrush Affair and Brexit. A timely and compelling book."
Sherene H. Razack, Distinguished Professor and the Penny Kanner Endowed Chair, the University of California at Los Angeles.

"This book's meticulous analysis of the racism that underpins UK immigration regimes is a searing indictment of British government policy, past and present. It is a hugely important contribution to understanding the relation between immigration and race, and a must read for students and scholars of migration."
Bridget Anderson, Director of the Bristol Institute on Migration and Mobility Studies and Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship.

"El-Enany's erudite account of the colonial divisions and violence which contemporary immigration laws enact sets a new bar for future research on Britain's Immigration and nationality laws."
Patricia Tuitt, Legal Academic,, author of Race, Law and Resistance


Nadine El-Enany is Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck School of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Law


Introduction: Britain as the spoils of empire
1. Bordering and ordering
2. Aliens: Immigration law's racial architecture
3. Subjects and citizens: Cordoning off colonial spoils
4. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers: Predictable arrivals
5. European Citizens and Third Country Nationals: Europe's colonial embrace
Conclusion: 'Go home' as an invitation to stay

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