As social scientists studying migration and racism, we have long been concerned with the ways in which racism impacts all of society, both migrants and citizens. We strongly condemn the ways in which racism inflicts violence and structural disadvantages on racialised Black, minority ethnic, refugee and migrant groups. Social science scholarship has shown how racism pervades our societies, through histories of colonialism and imperialism and through other forms of structural, systemic, institutional and everyday racism, oppression and injustice, made even more visible in these times of deepening global economic crisis. It is from the fact of these oppressions that the hostile environment for immigrants has been constructed, which we are pledged to oppose.

At this moment, a movement has emerged, galvanised by the protests against the cruel racist murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police which scandalised the world. The Black Lives Matter movement points out how racism is as deadly as the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither racism nor COVID-19  is a fact of life that must be endured; we can eradicate them. If there is a political will, we can address and change the racist state practices, institutions and everyday behaviours. As social scientists, we affirm our solidarity with these protests and movements, at this particular historical moment and always. Racism and structural racial inequalities must be eliminated.

As social scientists within Higher Education institutions, some of the ways in which we can do so are by calling out, analysing, protesting and challenging intellectually, structurally, pedagogically and politically:

  • the racism underlying UK and EU migration and asylum policies, the arsenal of hostile environment policies and the ways different forms of racialisation pervades every part of UK society and globally;
  • the border controls and the culture of surveillance on our campuses affecting international students, scholars and university workers, which is a critical part of the hostile environment;
  • the silence in many British academic circles around colonial and racist research traditions; and
  • the casualisation of academic work and lack of career progression and the ways it especially affects staff from racialised minorities.

We support:

  • anti-racist actions that seek to push back against the criminalisation and devaluation of Black lives in our own campuses and elsewhere;
  • the demands emerging from racialised and migrant communities for an end to oppressive policing of the places where we live and work, and the denial of rights to NHS healthcare and social benefits;
  • the proper representation of Black staff and students at all levels of HE, in particular senior levels; and
  • the urgent efforts to decolonise schools and academic curricula.

All these struggles are interconnected and need to be addressed as part of our ongoing professional and political ethics.


Who we are:

Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment is a group of UK scholars, originally formed as a project of the Academy of Social Sciences Special Interest Group (SIG) on Refugees, Migration and Settlement.

We work as social scientists on issues of racism and migration in the UK and globally. We also believe in our duty as social scientists to use our research to inform political debates and to challenge the ‘Hostile Environment’ for migrants produced by current government policy.

Our website is at:

Read our new report here