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Claims to a historic tradition of ‘sanctuary’ in the United Kingdom are contested by the long, entangled roots of the hostile environment, long before its official announcement as policy by the 2012 Coalition government. What happens if we frame this hostility or inhospitability as the structural enforcement of loneliness? Solitude and isolation have seen refugees ‘fall through the cracks’ of welfare statutory support. Loneliness is the consequence of racism and xenophobia. It is a weapon used by the state, to construct borders, to separate families, to imprison, to detain, to deport, to take away belonging. 

In this paper, Anna Maguire (Queen Mary, University of London) takes the experiences of refugee loneliness in the second half of the twentieth century as a lens through which to historicise resettlement in Britain. She examines how isolation and loneliness have been articulated, especially in critique of the UK’s response to refugees, and attempts to ‘solve’ loneliness by charities and community organisations striving to welcome refugees and asylum seekers.  

All are welcome – this is a free event, but booking is required.