Re-Locating Asylum Activism: Asylum Seekers´ Negotiations of Political Possibilities, Affective Borders and the Everyday

PhD Thesis

Meier, I. 2018. Re-Locating Asylum Activism: Asylum Seekers´ Negotiations of Political Possibilities, Affective Borders and the Everyday. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Social Sciences
AuthorsMeier, I.
TypePhD Thesis

This dissertation explores how bordering is unfolding in the 21st century and how people most affected by these practices keep finding spaces of political possibility. My research comes out of my involvement in asylum activist communities in London and Berlin and brings together scholarship on activism, bordering and asylum, and affect and emotion to explore its entanglement. The research is based upon fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2018, that I call intimate ethnography and draws in particular upon less formal and structured modes of engagement. My ongoing conversations with forty asylum seekers at protest events, demonstrations, activist group meetings but more significantly in my intimate relationships and the everyday, contemplated the construction of contemporary political spaces, the role of affect and emotion within them, and asylum seekers´ precarious positioning. It problematises the ways in which asylum activism is understood as public and organised politics and examines all its other manifestations in the everyday. Moreover, this thesis challenges the emphasis on action by looking into the role of affect and emotion.

Asylum subjectivity, as this work shows, is constructed affectively and emotionally, as a space of intense discomfort and depletion, and yet contains moments of political agency. My findings show how asylum activism is constantly remade through political negotiations of asylum seekers that are emotional and affective, complex, ambiguous and fluid, happening both inside and outside of formal activist spaces. These political negotiations aim firstly at extending, and by that re-locating asylum activism and secondly, are always in conversation with state bordering practices as these practices are constantly changing what the space of the political is. The findings of my research contribute to scholarship on everyday bordering and precarity by further exploring its emotional component. Moreover, my thesis offers numerous examples of political possibilities that cannot be located within a struggle over rights or membership, but rather within a politics oriented towards survival, hope, comfort and care.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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PrintSep 2018
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Deposited15 Aug 2019
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