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Accommodating Otherness: anti-asylum centre protest and the maintenance of white privilege

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Geographers have recently progressed the debate on NIMBYism by demonstrating that opposition to new development is frequently motivated by white residents’ desire to exclude non-white groups. In this paper, I extend this argument by exploring community opposition to a proposed accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Nottinghamshire (UK). Herein, I detail a rhetoric of opposition that ignored the multiple origins and ethnicities of asylum seekers to depict them as an undifferentiated Other group. Though local campaigners rarely referred directly to their own ‘whiteness’, I argue their campaign can only be understood within a racialized problematic, constituting an attempt to defend the privileges of an ‘unmarked’ whiteness against the imagined threat of a racialized Other. In conclusion, I argue that studies of NIMBYism must take careful account of the contingency of racial identities if they are to effectively contribute to the geographic literature that seeks to de-centre white privilege.
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Keywords: NIMBY; asylum seekers; racism; social exclusion; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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