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Showing posts from February, 2016

A Study in Scarlet: The UK Red Wristband Scandal, How the Treatment of Asylum Seekers Continues a Long History of Branding the Other

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 masterpiece “The Scarlet Letter” tells the story of one Hester Prynne, adulteress.  As punishment for her crime Hester is forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her clothes at all time so that everyone in the New England community where she lives can see the mark of her shame.  This public marking has the effect of destroying Hester’s life making her an outcast, a despised other.  It would appear that A stands for alterity as much as it does for adultery. 
When I studied this novel over twenty years ago I will admit I didn’t quite get it but, like the ineradicability of sin itself, it stayed with me so that when I read a couple of weeks ago that asylum seekers in Cardiff had been forced to wear red wristbands by Clearsprings Ready Homes in order to be fed, I finally got the point of Hawthorne’s enigmatic work.

The Red Wristband Policy I particular, the management at Clearsprings Ready Homes did me the profound intellectual service of reminding me of Hawthorne’s …