Race and Nation in Detention

In this paper, drawing on fieldwork in two British immigration removal centres (IRCs), I will discuss staff accounts of race and racism in detention. Designed as places to expel unwanted foreign citizens, IRCs are highly racialised institutions as nearly all residents within them are members of an ethnic minority. What is it like to work in such places? How, if at all, do staff members internalise or promote ideas about race and racialization. What happens when the staff members themselves are migrants or second-generation British citizens? How do they view and interpret ideas of race? By focusing on staff accounts rather than detainees’ this paper seeks to widen our understanding of the ways in which these institutions of confinement reinforce and, maybe sometimes, disrupt ideas of race and belonging in British society.