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Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants Out of the Rich World

Searing reportage and analysis of the new politics of immigration in both Europe and America.

Ours is an era marked by extraordinary human migrations, with some 200 million people alive today having moved from their country of origin. The political reaction in Europe and the United States has been to raise the drawbridge: immigrant workers are needed, but no longer welcome. So migrants die in trucks or drown en route; they are murdered in smuggling operations or ruthlessly exploited in illegal businesses that make it impossible for the abused to seek police help. More than 15,000 people have died in the last twenty years trying to circumvent European entry restrictions.

In this beautifully written book, Jeremy Harding draws haunting portraits of the migrants – and anti-immigrant zealots – he encountered in his investigations in Europe and on the US–Mexico border. Harding's painstaking research and global perspective identify the common characteristics of immigration policy across the rich world and raise pressing questions about the future of national boundaries and universal values.

Reviews

  • “[A] tightly-coiled, unpredictable book... Harding makes his ambitious, continent-crossing arguments in economical, sometimes elegant, usually understated prose.”
  • “Beyond its investigative insight, Border Vigils is also a groundbreaking chronicle of migrant voices rarely heard. Ranging from the southern shores of Italy and the backstreets of England to the embattled US–Mexico front line, Harding’s brilliant work could not be more timely – and timeless.”
  • “...offering a sympathetic portrait of disadvantaged migrants that highlights the ways in which their needs are so often ignored even as their plights were largely created by the very rich countries that they wish to enter.”

Blog

  • The Myth and Reality of Brexit and Migrants

    Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi is a journalist and writer-in-residence at Lacuna. Through interviews with Thamer, a Syrian refugee, and Mahalia, a survivor of domestic violence and migrant, Omonira-Oyekanmi demystifies two common narratives in the Brexit campaigns that play on anxieties around immigration and resources. 

    The official campaign to leave the European Union was based on two xenophobic myths, woven into public discussion. Subtlety was unnecessary because these ideas around immigration had been decades in the making: the media led the narrative, the public understood it and politicians whipped it out whenever things got tricky.

    Myth One: Take Back Control

    The first myth was that leaving the EU would shield Britain from the refugee crisis and stem the flow of people seeking sanctuary on these shores. This undertone was made explicit by Nigel Farage’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster, which pictured Middle Eastern refugees queuing at Europe’s borders. The subheading read: “We must break free of the EU and take back control.” There was little ambiguity. Taking back control was about keeping this particular group of people out. And this is what many voted for. This is regrettable. Because in reality Brexit will have no bearing on those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.

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  • Post Orlando / Post Brexit Anti-Islamophobia Reading List

    Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it. 

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  • Brexit and the European Union: Essential Reading

    Since David Cameron announced a referendum on whether Britain stays in the European Union, the debate surrounding Britain's role in Europe has triggered a flurry of conjecture regarding the likely outcome of the referendum and the consequences of a vote to leave the EU.

    Gordon Brown is the latest to come out in support of the campaign to stay in the EU, claiming it is "not British to retreat to Europe's sidelines" and arguing that Britain needed to be in the EU to shape the continent's responses to terrorism, immigration and climate change. The Economist published a story this week outlining security concerns and questioning whether Britain is safer in the European Union, or outside of it.

    Whilst the narrative of opposition to the EU is largely dominated by the right, we've put together an essential reading list of books that critically engage with the debate from a perspective of internationalism rather than the xenophobia that is so common amongst EU critics. Additional books on the list analyse the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, the Greek debt crisis, and the nature of the contemporary British far right. 


    Also new on the Verso blog is an exclusive extract from John Gillingham's The EU: An Obituary, in which he comments on Brexit, the EU’s democratic failures and offers cogent predictions of the European Union’s decline.


    (image from The Economist)

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Other books by Jeremy Harding