Conflicting imaginaries of the UK border and self-bordering

Karen Latricia Hough, Kahina Le Louvier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter compares the imaginaries of the UK border by migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees, with those underpinning immigration and asylum policies. This exploration builds on qualitative data from the prestigious Horizon 2020 EU-funded PERCEPTIONS project. Using in-depth interviews conducted with migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, practitioners, experts, and law enforcement representatives, this chapter shows how for many people the UK is initially imagined as a place of freedom and opportunity, where they can find safety and protection. The border signals a barrier that once crossed will offer them a life of hope and security in a democratic country. These perceptions, however, can become contested imaginaries conflicting with the reality of living in the UK. As a result of asylum and immigration legislation that builds on a pull factor imaginary, such living conditions are often marked by discrimination, poverty, marginalisation, and the exacerbation of mental health issues. In addition to the various harms created by the legislation, we show that two types of self-bordering practices emerge from the conflict between migrants’ imaginaries and those upon which policies are built: one by which individuals separate themselves from their host society through internalised racism and one by which they separate themselves from their home community through the impossibility to share the reality of the hardship they face.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUK Borderscapes
Subtitle of host publicationSites of Enforcement and Resistance
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000934236
ISBN (Print)9781032395487
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2023

Cite this