chapter  3
26 Pages

Shaping the nation, excluding the Other: the deportation of migrants from Britain

Literary theorists and cultural anthropologists have used notions of ‘Otherness’ and ‘difference’ with dramatic effect to show how Eurocentric views of the world came to be dominant. For example, Pratt (1986), a scholar of comparative literature, showed how travellers’ descriptions of the San of southern Africa (called ‘Bushmen’) codified difference and fixed ‘the Other’ in a timeless present. All actions and reactions of the

‘native’ were thought to be habitual and predictable. The ethnographic present gave a history to the observer (characteristically the European, the insider, the self), but denied coevality to the observed (the outsider, the alien, ‘the Other’). By suggesting that members of the Other were incapable of change, they cease to be amenable to reason and become unable to change, adapt or assimilate.