The politics of encounters between asylum seekers and the migration regime

Authors: Kirsi P. Kallio*, Tampere University, Jouni Häkli, Tampere University
Topics: Political Geography, Migration, Social Theory
Keywords: refugee, asylum seekers, migration regime, embodiment, political agency
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Madison B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper focuses on the embodied encounters between asylum seekers and the migration regime that regulates border crossing and asylum admittance. By analyzing asylum seekers’ experiences of coming into contact with the migration regime – a shorthand that we use to regard the border control related to forced migration, the assessment for refugee status, and the related practices providing humanitarian support – we trace the forms of embodiment that their political presence invites in these temporally and spatially dispersed situations. Drawing from interviews with asylum seekers in Tampere, Finland, we consider specifically how experiences of diminished personhood – being seen as a body rather than a person – generate political subjectivities and embodied agency. Moreover, we explore what means asylum seekers have at their disposal to claim personhood as the mode in which they are encountered by the regime. The papers sets out to argue that the bodily encounters between asylum seekers and the migration regime emerges as a field of politics centered on (the containment of) embodied presence as a political force. Overall, our attempt is to shed light on how asylum seekers from different generational positions and with distinct backgrounds may gain capacities and agencies vital in their challenging life situations.

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