New Publication – Seeing and unseeing Prevent’s racialized borders

November 23, 2020

SPIN is delighted to announce the next release in our special collection of critical secrecy and critical security articles to be appearing over this year in Security Dialogue.


Author: Dr. Nadya Ali (University of Sussex)


This article provides a re-theorization of the Prevent strategy as racialized bordering. It explores how knowledge regarding the racist logics of British counter-terrorism are supressed through structures of white ignorance and how International Relations scholarship is implicated in this tendency to ‘whitewash’ Prevent’s racism. Building on the use of science fiction in International Relations, the article uses China Miéville’s novel The City and the City to undertake the analysis. Miéville evokes a world where the cities of Ul Qoma and Besźel occupy the same physical space but are distinct sovereign jurisdictions. Citizens are disciplined to ‘see’ their city and ‘unsee’ the other city to produce borders between the two. The themes of coding signifiers of difference and seeing/unseeing as bordering practices are used to explore how Prevent racializes Muslims as outsiders to a white Britain in need of defending. Muslim difference is hypervisibilized or seen as potentially threatening and coded as part of racialized symptoms which constitute radicalization and extremism. This article shows how the racial bordering of Prevent sustains violence perpetrated by white supremacists, which is subsequently ‘unseen’ through the case of Thomas Mair.



You can read Dr. Ali’s full article published in Security Dialogue here.

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