For all you Adelaideans, I am giving a seminar paper at Flinders University for the History Discipline Seminar Series next Friday on 3 May. The title of my paper is ‘A Blueprint for the ‘War on Terror’? Counter-terrorist operations and monitoring Middle Eastern and North African visitors to the UK in the 1970s-1980s‘. Here is the abstract:
In the twenty-first century, the security of the border has become central to the national security agenda of the United Kingdom and the border control system has become one of the front-lines in the ‘War on Terror’. This paper will demonstrate that the intersection between national and border security is not just a recent phenomenon and that the national-border security nexus has a well-established historical precedent. Using recently uncovered documents from the National Archives in London, this paper argues that in the 1970s and early 1980s, when the threat of modern international terrorism was at its peak, the immigration/border control system was established by the UK authorities as a front-line defense against terrorist activities occurring in the UK. The immigration control system was used to prevent ‘potential terrorists’ from entering the country, as well as detecting and monitoring people from certain national/ethnic groups who were thought to be ‘potential terrorists’. Similar to the situation in the contemporary era, the external terrorist threat was believed to come from the Middle East and North Africa. It is the purpose of this paper to show how this anxiety over Middle Eastern/Arab terrorism informed border control practices that profiled certain national groups and in the course of trying to achieve the UK’s counter-terrorism objectives, the actions of the border control system placed blanket restrictions on certain nationals in order to prevent a minute number of potential ‘threats’ entering the country. Most of the literature on UK counter-terrorism in the 1970s has focused on the methods used to counter Irish terrorism (and the creation of a ‘suspect community’ amongst the Irish in Britain); this paper seeks to show that similar processes were undertaken by the authorities with regards to Middle Eastern and North African people traveling to the UK. From a counter-terrorist and border control perspective, it was the procedure to treat all Middle Eastern and North African nationals seeking to visit the UK as potential terrorists until considered otherwise.
Details of where and when can be found here. It’d super swell if you all could come along.
If you are unable to attend, but would be interested in reading the paper, please email me for a draft copy.