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Social exclusion, symbolic boundaries and convivial labour in East London’s context of ongoing immigration

An online talk by:
Dr. Susanne Wessendorf
Professor of Social Anthropology, Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations

*co-sponsored by the UBC Centre for Migration Studies' Mobilities Group and the UBC Department of Anthropology

Friday, February 26, 2021
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (PST)

[ Abstract ]
In much public discourse on immigrants in Western Europe, perceptions towards newcomers are discussed in relation to what white national majorities think. However, today, new migrants often move into places which are already settled by previous migrants. This lecture investigates the local experiences, perceptions and attitudes towards newcomers among long-established ethnic minorities in an area which they have made their home, and where they predominate not just in numbers but also by way of shops, religious sites, school population, etc. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in East London (UK), it looks at long-established ethnic minority residents’ attitudes towards newcomers from Eastern Europe, and how these are shaped by their own histories of exclusion. By bringing together theories on symbolic boundary making with the concept of ‘convivial labour’, the lecture illustrates how experiences of stigmatization impact on perceptions of white newcomers, and how, in the context of socio-economic precariousness, these perceptions are characterized by a combination of empathy and resentment.

[ Bio ]
Susanne Wessendorf is Professor of Social Anthropology at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (UK). She has been doing research on migration, transnationalism and migrant settlement for more than ten years. Her recent work focuses on understanding new forms of social inclusion and exclusion in contexts of immigration-related diversity. Since completing her DPhil at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, she has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at the University of Birmingham, and Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economic’s International Inequalities Institute.