AbstractsSocial Work

Authorities on the Subject: Deportation and the Confluence of Violence within Forensic Mental Health and Immigration Systems

by Jesus Joseph Ameil

Institution: York University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Mental health ; Social work ; Ethics
Record ID: 2060151
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/28185


The practice of deportation for those identified with “mental illness” in Canada is one unique and telling confluence whereby contemporary conceptions, interpretations, functions of discourse, and technologies of “mental illness”, “criminality”, and “race” can be studied through the shared texts of the mental health, criminal justice, and immigration systems. These systems rely on seemingly separate operations in order to continue common violent projects of segregation, confinement, removal, the application of harm to the physical body and the identification of people as inherently dehumanized. In this study, contemporary deportation appeal decisions documents, archival documents and secondary deportation appeals data are analyzed drawing on postcolonial theory, Gadamerian philosophy, an attention to confluence and the subjective, objective and symbolic modes of violence via Slavoj Žižek. The analysis imperils the reliance of immigration, criminal justice and mental health systems on constructions of the interdependent identities of the untreatable biomedically mentally ill, and the unrehabilitatable inherently criminal and the undeserving foreign alien Other in order to rationalize deportation. The practices and technologies of evaluation and decision making used by professionals, police, lawyers and experts are questioned for their participation in the perpetuation of historical forms of colonial violence through the enforcement of racial and eugenic policies and laws in Canada. The historical developments of professional hegemonies, racial and eugenic laws, and direct professional practices at this confluence are interrogated for their complicity in the (re)making of the fantasy of the Canadian public, representing itself as just, fair and supportive while rationalizing violence at legislative, institutional, and professional levels. At the same time, notions of undesirability and exclusion based on race, class, ability, mental category, criminal history, or health status are reinforced. Opportunities for transformation of the identified colonial technologies and processes at the confluence of immigration, mental health and criminal justice systems are proposed through a denial of isolating individualistic identities, an appreciation of the hurtful advancement of colonial tropes and through connection to collective forms of resistance.