We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Another letter from the Home Office : reading the material politics of asylum.

Darling, Jonathan (2014) 'Another letter from the Home Office : reading the material politics of asylum.', Environment and planning D : society and space., 32 (3). pp. 484-500.


In an era of technologically mediated modes of border enforcement, this paper focuses upon a seemingly more anachronistic mode of governmental intervention: That of the letter. Exploring the use of letters by the UK Border Agency to communicate decisions on asylum claims I argue that taking the materiality of the letter seriously demands a reworking of the politics of asylum. Drawing on ethnographic research within a UK asylum drop-in centre, the paper opens by offering a governmental reading of letters as things which define the limits of present and future actions, whilst fixing individuals to specific locations. The paper then destabilises such a reading by considering how letters are understood through material-discursive entanglements of things, discourses, and spaces, such that letters are understood through, and help to constitute, different atmospheres, spaces, and subjectivities of asylum. Thus I argue that it is by taking seriously the connections between materials, discourses, and affective states that we might critically interrogate framings of the state as an oppressive force shaping the lives of those seeking asylum.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:29 May 2018
Date of first online publication:01 January 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar