Scholars are increasingly interested in and concerned with both the way various migrant populations are categorised, and the lived impacts of that categorisation. In this article, we examine how categorisation was experienced by people at various stages of the refugee journey during the biggest public health crisis for generations. We argue, using original interview data, that the way refugees are categorised, or politically bound, has material impacts on the way they experience their lives, and that this was evident in extremis during the Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland. As populations attempted to traverse public health messaging, this is shown to interact with longstanding state proclivities to control, marginalise and stratify. Consequently, how people experienced and managed the request to ‘stay home and save lives’ varied markedly by where they were in their refugee journey and how they arrived in the UK.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Burns, N., Mulvey, G., Piacentini, T. & Vidal, N. 2022, 'Refugees, political bounding and the pandemic: material effects and experiences of categorisations amongst refugees in Scotland', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2022.2058471

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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