Introduction: beyond the stereotypes

This is a blog about immigration, borders, refugees and displacement. It strikes me that these are the issues of our time. The stories, and our reaction to them, define our politics. While the schism of opinion that these issues provoke has created a deep rupture at the heart of popular cultures.

Despite these divisions and difference of opinion, what seems indisputable however is that thousands die on their journeys and thousands more arrive at their destination only to be made to suffer for years more — and this is to put to one side the, perhaps, millions who never get the chance to flee. It’s these numbers and the factors that lead to them that makes these issues seem oceanic in their scale. Yet, despite this complexity I don’t think there’s one other set of political issue that so frequently seem to be defined by the most simplistic stereotypes, both vile and idealistic. Recently, I realised that I’ve resorted to some of those stereotypes on occasion — not the vile ones, albeit. I’ve also been happy to naively ignore the complexity them in the past.

This blog is an attempt to put that right in some small way. Reflecting on what happens when one ignores the complexity of these issues and resorts to stereotype it seems that what is I’ve overlooked most often is the human. And it is this, that should be at the core of any attempt to comprehend these crises: the human, the different and particular ways the migration crisis affects individuals and the way individuals interact with them.

I don’t know how often I’ll write here but I hope it’s week. If anyone reads this and thinks I’m talking rubbish or I should really be reading X, or thinking about Y, then please get in touch. I have no expertise in any of these issues and I’ll be grateful for any advice, especially if it is comradely in spirit.

Finally, it’s been an awful year and one without much hope. What has made it so bad is that as soon as one gets some sense of perspective it seems to only get worse. I’ve had moments when I’m obsessing about some racist ideologue’s latest outburst and then a news article appears in my feed that reminds me that the climate disaster is around the corner or that 10's of thousands of people have died just trying to flee the effects of war. In moments like this, I’ve felt like I’m genuinely falling. My stomach drops as if the rickety floor I was trying to navigate has become a platform on which I’m plummeting while the building that was previously supporting it has suddenly started to collapse around it. In times like these I’m not sure you can avoid that feeling easily. But I hope that working to get a sense of some of those problems and how we can work together to make a difference to them can offer some relief and a footing that is a little firmer in these uncertain times.

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