Deportation Discs

This two day public hearing presented two sonic portraits produced and recorded by Luke de Noronha and two individuals - Chris and Denico - who moved to the UK as children and were deported to Jamaica as adults, following interaction with the criminal justice system. These portraits - ‘the Deportation Discs’ - were presented alongside a wall of texts; extracts from the legal and policy frameworks of the United Kingdom, guidelines governing the ‘coming home’ or ‘taking back’ of individuals, and reflections on legal and media representations of place, identity, home and belonging.

The situating of this work within the Bartlett, a school of the Built Environment, was a purposive move; on the one hand, a critique of the encroachment of border enforcement into academic spaces, and on the other, an acknowledgement that racist, hostile policies are constructions in and of themselves. This work suggests that the project of dreaming up future worlds should be as much about dismantling oppressive constructions, as creatively building alternative, inclusive futures.

Deportation discs: a public hearing was open to the public on the 15th and 16th of November, 9am - 9pm, The Bartlett School of Architecture, 22 Gordon Street WC1H 0QB (first floor landing). Read Allan Struther’s review of the exhibition on RS21.

Luke is a researcher and writer working on deportation, racism and immigration control. He recently completed his PhD in anthropology at the University of Oxford (COMPAS) and has been teaching at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the Sociological Review Fellow at Keele University for 2018/19, and is writing a book provisionally titled ‘Deporting Black Britons: Portraits of Deportation to Jamaica’.

BREAK//LINE

Exhibition Wall Texts

A public hearing is typically thought of as an official meeting where members of the public are invited to hear ‘facts’ about a proposed development, local issue or government action, to scrutinise the evidence, and respond by giving testimony on public record. In this public hearing, we interrogate the political and legal context behind the construction of the ‘hostile environment’ and listen to the testimony of two individuals – Chris and Denico – who have direct experience of its racist and violent expression. Testimonies like Chris and Denico’s – as told in their own words and soundtrack – are rarely heard in the Bartlett, yet they demand that we examine how our society is weaponising space: constructing homes, schools, prisons, borders and policies which build insurmountable barriers. These constructions exclude people – some whose entire lives have been formed in this country – and deem them undesirable, unwelcome and undeserving. Situating this work within the Bartlett, a school of the Built Environment, is a purposive move. On the one hand, it is a critique of the encroachment of border enforcement into academic spaces. On the other, it is an acknowledgement that racist, hostile policies are constructions in and of themselves. This work suggests that the project of dreaming up future worlds should be as much about dismantling oppressive constructions, as creatively – and collectively – building alternative, inclusive futures. In the discs, Chris reminds us not to forget their stories; against the backdrop of a storm, we hear Denico’s strength. With this exhibition, we hope to honour these sentiments and also to inspire action. This piece cannot possibly address all of the issues raised – but it is important, and urgent, to listen, to engage in an act of collective, public hearing, and to put these issues on the agenda. It has been an honour to collaborate with Luke, Chris and Denico to bring these stories into the Bartlett. The lion’s share of producing this important work has been theirs, and we invite you to hear them roar.

Miranda Critchley & Thandi Loewenson
BREAK//LINE


Since 2006, the UK has been prioritising the deportation of ‘foreign criminals’. As a result, it is now increasingly difficult, often impossible, for non-citizens with criminal records to successfully appeal against their deportation. Many of these criminalised non-citizens have British children, and many arrived themselves as infants. Banishment, then, might be the more pointed term. In 2013, 291 Jamaican nationals were deported from the UK (another 1,050 were sent from the U.S.). Of these, 73% were deported because of ‘criminal activity’, and over half of these offenders were guilty of drugs offences. Chris was one of them, and two years later Denico was another. My research has been about the biographies of men like Chris and Denico, men who moved to the UK as children, lived here for over half their lives, and who now live in Jamaica, in the country of their citizenship, in exile. Meeting deported people in Jamaica was often profoundly distressing. Indeed, getting to know a few people well was my way of dealing with the enormity of it all. It has been hard to capture just how violent deportation is – the forced separation, the impossibility of return – and Deportation Discs was one attempt to humanise and to soundtrack. Bringing the podcast out from our earphones and into space brings out the humanity and the discord in new ways. Chris and Denico are both happy that their ‘stories are being told’ in this medium, and yet their absence takes form here. This, after all, is their city (and not mine). This is the placewhere they both went to school, and it is where Chris’ mum and his siblings currently live (all British citizens now). The exhibition cannot lessen their absence, it only sharpens it, but hopefully there is some value in that. Listening precedes action; sadness attends rage. It could be otherwise.

Luke de Noronha