Last week, along with our colleagues at the Manchester University Press, we hosted a large audience for the launch of the newly published book Go Home? The politics of immigration controversies.
This book is the outcome of an 18-month research project that came about, according to one of the authors, as the result of a ‘Twitter rant’, or perhaps a ‘Twitter distress call’.
When in July 2013 the Home Office arranged for vans to drive through parts of London carrying the message ‘In the UK illegally? GO HOME or face arrest’, a number of like-minded academics, journalists and third sector professionals found each other through social media, keen to track and learn from the unfolding responses to the campaign.
I was interested to hear the authors talk about this project as ‘rapid response research’. It was funded through the ESRC’s Urgency Grants scheme, which allowed quick access to funding to start immediate work (rather than the lengthy bidding process usually required for research funding); to capture real time responses and track societal changes as they happen. This responsiveness is surely vital for academic research, especially in the social sciences, to be relevant to the world beyond the university.
As a result this is a remarkable book, featuring a myriad of voices from academia, journalism, the third sector and, most importantly, migrant communities. It reveals how little we actually know about the effects of immigration in the UK, and the ‘performative politics’ the government engages in; that they must be seen to be being tough on immigration, even if that immigration isn’t a problem or that toughness is ineffective.
If you’re intrigued the book is on sale at £14.99 from Manchester University Press, or you can download an open access electronic copy. Or you can of course borrow a copy of the paperback from our library.