Systems of Suffering

Systems of Suffering

Dispersal and the Denial of Asylum

Jonathan Darling


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Of the many state-enacted cruelties to which refugees and asylum seekers are subjected, detention and deportation loom largest in popular consciousness. But there is a third practice, perpetrating a slower violence, that remains hidden: dispersal.

Jonathan Darling provides the first detailed account of how dispersal - the system of accommodation and support for asylum seekers and refugees in Britain - both sustains and produces patterns of violence, suffering and social abjection. He explores the evolution of dispersal as a privatised process, from the first outsourced asylum accommodation contracts in 2012 to the renewed wave of outsourcing pursued by the Home Office today.

Drawing on six years of research into Britain's dispersal system, and foregrounding the voices and experiences of refugees and asylum seekers, Darling argues that dispersal has played a central role in the erasure of asylum from public concern. Systems of Suffering is a vital tool in the arsenal of those fighting to hold the government to account for the violence of its asylum policy and practice.


Jonathan Darling:
Jonathan Darling is Associate Professor in Human Geography at Durham University. He is the co-editor of Sanctuary Cities and Urban Struggles: Rescaling Migration, Citizenship, and Rights and Encountering the City: Urban Encounters from Accra to New York.