Housing, the hyper-precarization of asylum seekers and the contested politics of welcome on Tyneside
Published in Issue 2.1 // The Long Read
Keywords: asylum, welcome, precarity, austerity, contestation
This paper analyses the role of housing in shaping the contested politics of welcome in the North East of England. It argues that changes to state provision of asylum seeker housing and the introduction of new legislation to create a hostile internalised bordering regime have led to a hyper-precarization of asylum seekers, which has been contested through a range of political projects at the urban scale. On Tyneside, these projects coalesced around struggles for improvements to state-provided accommodation for asylum seekers. The analysis reveals that whilst asylum housing has become key to the articulation of the politics of welcome within cities outside of London, it is spatially and temporally differentiated. The differential political projects shaping ‘welcoming’ at the urban scale emerge from contestation between a range of actors. On Tyneside, this contested politics arises from two key shifts: a change in national and local government in 2010 and 2011, which catalysed an oppositional politics of welcome amongst regional politicians; and the emergence of a new civil society initiative on Tyneside, whose direct action destabilised the relatively sedimented existing political landscape of welcome in the region, making space for differentiated asylum seeker political subjectivities.