Racialising age in the UK’s border regime

Rosen, R. and S. Khan (2024). “Racialising age in the UK’s border regime: a case for abolishing age assessment.” Race & Class Online first.

Abstract: Processes for assessing the age of young unaccompanied migrants have been roundly critiqued, with new concerns in the UK being raised about the increasing use of ‘scientific’ approaches. In this article, we suggest that, taking everything into account, analyses do not go far enough, arguing that technical questions of how ‘best’ to assess age or the new incursion of biometric measurements can obscure the political question of what work age does in hostile border regimes. As a result, the underpinning logics of age assessment – an essentialisation of age, ‘race’ and borders – are not only left in place but further augmented. We demonstrate, through a careful curation of assessment reports (that operate through the assertion of truth claims about the body, childhood and time) how such reports draw on and reproduce multiple and intersecting racist imaginaries as they are synthesised with developmental logics around childhood. Age, we argue, is being weaponised in the service of post-racial fantasies in liberal democracies, rising ethnonationalism and state retrenchment from social support.