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Friday, April 8 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Intervening in the Itinerary: Contemporary Immigration Debates and the History of Labor Migration in England

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On November 30th, 2014 the English newspaper The Independent reported that David Cameron, the British prime minister, had “been forced to retreat” on a speech given on November 28th, 2014 to Parliament regarding immigration to the United Kingdom from European Union member states. While expectations from Conservative MPs had included a call for “caps” on the number of migrants, the speech instead called for “tougher and longer re-entry bans for all those who abuse free of movement including beggars, rough sleepers, fraudsters and people who collude in sham marriages.” The “freedom of movement” for labor has been an issue in England and Europe's history dating to the rise centralized government during the Early Modern era. The link between renaissance English fears of  “masterless men,” “sturdy beggars,” “traveling rogues” and “unsettled” or “displaced” labor is well documented (see Fumerton, Slack, Kunze, McIntosh, Brundage, Clark et al.). Cameron's targeting of "beggars, rough sleepers, and fraudsters" reflects centuries of rhetoric regarding the "'deserving' versus the 'idle' poor."  Less has been written on the rise of state power and its purposeful intervention in labor through poor and vagrancy laws as a state resource, before the rise of industrial capitalism. The purpose of my research is to document the link between specific laws and instances of their selective enforcement restricting/policing the mobility of the most “valuable” labor pool (as the highest paid class of “casual” labor) of young men between the ages of 14 and 40 and the rhetoric of "deserving poor" in English law and policy. This body of “unskilled” labor was rightfully regarded as having the most potential for violence and disruption in law and the public consciousness but also reflected a necessary agricultural and military resource for the state. As changes and challenges in the early modern economy necessitated alterations in government financing and taxation, the bureaucratic “paper surveillance” of potential labor resources increased apace with these adaptations. The history of the English state's policies regarding "freedom of movement" and labor are intrinsicaly linked to contemporary concerns expressed by Cameron: "(But) freedom of movement has never been an unqualified right, and we now need to allow it to operate on a more sustainable basis in the light of the experience of recent years."


Friday April 8, 2016 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Ballroom East UW Student Union

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