Exploring Imagined Temporalities in Resettlement Workers’ Narratives: Renegotiating Temporal and Emotional Boundaries in Post‑Brexit Britain


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This paper develops the concept of ‘imagined temporalities’ to explore multiple temporal subjectivities, time cultures, ‘myths’, and realities evident in interviews with resettlement workers who were part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) in Merseyside, United Kingdom (UK). Conducted in 2019, the interviews took place as the triggering of Article 50 signalled the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (EU). This period of unprecedented social, economic, and political changes formed a crucial backdrop framing our interviewees’ narratives. The views of resettlement workers have been little explored and are employed here to complement the insights provided by work undertaken by others with refugees and asylum seekers. This research provides important insights into their perceptions of the interplay of factors that afect belonging and access to supports for refugees and asylum seekers, revealing wider, largely underreported, concerns. These include, their own personal experiences working in support services and system changes, driven by growing socio-political pressures that impact on community-building among refugees during their resettlement. Signifcantly, debates about “Brexit” and the UK’s political future, as well as heated public discussions of the historical legacies of colonialism which underpin the present treatment of migrants,
are refected in these resettlement workers’ views as well. Subsequently, this paper employs the concept of ‘imagined temporalities’ to explore how support workers understand the treatment of migrants by social and political systems—and their own personal struggles and hopes,—against this wider, divisive post-Brexit backdrop. Overall, the paper underlines the highly politicised space the resettlement workers operate in, where they balance the needs of service users in the midst of constraints imposed by overly rigid time regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Early online date17 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2024


  • migration
  • Asylum Seekers
  • Time Cultures
  • Imagined temporalities
  • Resettlement workers
  • UK Resettlement Scheme
  • Merseyside
  • Time cultures

Research Centres

  • Centre for Social Responsibility

Research Groups

  • Migration Working Group - North West


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