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Burying asylum under the foundations of home

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Abstract

In 2010, the former New Labour immigration minister Phil Woolas (in a rather dubious distillation of British identity) suggested that ‘The simple act of taking one’s turn is one of the things that holds our country together. It is very important that newcomers take their place in queues whether it is for a bus or a cup of tea’ (Daily Telegraph 2010). He claimed that tensions emerge when some immigrants are not familiar with British cultural practices, such as queuing and ‘playing fair’. The implication was that this disrupts the familiar rhythms and practices of home which ‘hold our country together’ and risks unmaking the host’s home. Successful ‘integration’, therefore, depends upon well-behaved guests, leaving any complicating ‘cultural practices’ by the door as they cross the nation’s threshold and adhere to a set of reasonable house rules laid down by the host.