Rebecca Ehata

My doctoral research project examines the politics of belonging and the borderlining practices used to demarcate those who belong from those who don’t, in relation to migrants and minority communities. I focus primarily on the concept of autochthony, which holds that only those individuals who have a demonstrable ancestral link to the territorial state truly ‘belong’ there. Autochthonous discourse constructs the idea that there is a ‘natural’ difference between those who are ‘born and bred’ and those who aren’t; more significantly, it then uses this difference as a marker to determine access to economic, cultural and social resources. My thesis explores the ways in which the logics of autochthony shape the politics and everyday practices of belonging in the UK. I focus on housing as an everyday context, and use empirical material gathered during fieldwork with the Turkish and Kurdish community in North London as a case study in which to unpack the politics of the links between the everyday experiences of Turks and Kurds and wider discourses of belonging in the UK. Placing my work within the broader field of International Relations (IR), my research and case study also reflect on and contribute to wider critical IR concerns, in particular the debates about inclusion and exclusion, practices of statecraft and the role of power in sustaining these. The overriding thesis of this project is that issues of belonging cannot be sidelined by International Relations as a domestic irrelevance, but rather go to the heart of the construction of the discipline. The perpetual contestation and transformation of the borders which delineate ‘who belongs’ stretch from the most localised and mundane of contexts, through the intermediary of the nation-state, into the global arena. Thus, the discursive construction of the edges of belonging can be described as a conversation with and of the international, and accordingly is inherently bound up with IR.

Supervisors: Dr. Peter Lawler and Dr. Veronique Pin-Fat

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