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Deportability and Spirituality in a Hostile Environment: An Intersubjective Perspective

Waldstein, Anna (2021) Deportability and Spirituality in a Hostile Environment: An Intersubjective Perspective. Social Anthropology, 29 (4). pp. 960-975. ISSN 0964-0282. (KAR id:89743)


The United Kingdom’s ‘hostile environment for immigrants’ is having distressing effects on people of African Caribbean heritage, especially those who have been threatened with deportation. While some research demonstrates a strong connection between the threat of deportation (deportability) and abjection, deportable migrants may also develop strategies (e.g. religious participation) to work around state controls. Jamaican family relations and spiritual practices emphasise intersubjectivity. This paper presents intersubjective ethnographic work conducted with a (formerly) deportable research partner, among Jamaican-born, Rastafari men who migrated as young adults to the UK in the 1990s. Restrictions against working during deportation appeals leave Rastafari men with the options of idleness, odd jobs in the informal economy or crime (typically selling drugs). Rastafari men find the discipline required to survive deportability through spirituality and engage in a variety of bodily rituals to generate positive energies, which help them remain calm and healthy. Vigilant attention to manners and dress are essential to raising social (and financial) capital on the road. The case of Rastafari migrants in the UK reveals a need for further expansion of ethnographic research into hostile environments from intersubjective perspectives that explore spirituality and deportability in diaspora families.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Rastafari, intersubjectivity, deportation, spiritual body, United Kingdom
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Signature Themes: Migration and Movement
Funders: British Academy (
Depositing User: Anna Waldstein
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2021 12:42 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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