By: Luke de Noronha, DPhil Candidate in Anthropology (COMPAS), University of Oxford
This post is part of the joint blog series on ‘Gender and Migration’ co-hosted by Border Criminologies and COMPAS. Posts of this series will be published in both blogs every Friday until the end of June.
Some people who live outside of their country of origin don’t really count as migrants. They might be expats; they might not be named at all. But Australian backpackers, French nannies, and international bankers are not really what we mean when we talk about migrants. If, however, you are the kind of person we mean when we talk about the migrant – i.e. you are racialised and/or poor – then you are generally portrayed as either a victim or a villain. Migrants are constructed as victims and villains by a range of actors (i.e. institutions of the state, journalists, politicians, judges, migrant advocates, and academics).
Gender and race are central to determining who goes where within this framework. In my work on ‘foreign criminals’, I examine the mechanics of gender and race in producing villains. ‘Foreign criminals’ have attracted much media and political interest in recent years; they are discursively constructed as racialised men who commit acts of hypermasculinist violence, often sexual, thus imperilling ‘our’ streets and, importantly, ‘our’ women. This construction of the ‘foreign criminal’ as a monstrous villain works to justify, on moral grounds, policies of imprisonment, indefinite detention, and deportation.