From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Calling for an end to indefinite detention: the spatial politics of Refugee Tales

David Herd


Founded in 2014 by Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, Refugee Tales is a civil society project that calls attention to the fact that the UK is the only country in Europe that detains people indefinitely under immigration rules, and which in so doing calls for that policy to end. The way the project makes its call is by sharing the stories of people who have experienced detention, and the way it shares those stories is in the context of a public walk. Written from within the project, the purpose of this article is to try to articulate the spatial politics of Refugee Tales. Taking as its starting point the ‘hostile environment’ that successive immigration acts have constructed for the person who seeks asylum in the UK, the argument opens by identifying the way the policies that constitute that environment deliberately impede human movement. The article then considers how, as ‘A Walk in Solidarity with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Detainees’, Refugee Tales offers a practical counter to such policy driven assaults on a person’s movement. To understand the substance of that counter-action, the article draws on Thomas Nail’s theory of kinopolitics as a means of understanding alternative images of mobility. Finally, with reference to Hannah Arendt, the article identifies the connection between movement and story. It is by making the link between story and movement, a link that hostile immigration policy implicitly understands, that Refugee Tales has arrived at a spatial practice that helps open the argument for political change.


walking, stories, indefinite detention, hostile environment, kinopolitics



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