Feminist Perspectives on Refugee and Asylum-Seeker Spaces and Subjectivities I

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Ethnonationalism and Exclusion Around the World
Sponsor Groups: Feminist Geographies Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 42
Organizers: Banu Gokariksel, Suad Jabr, Nathan Swanson
Chairs: Banu Gokariksel


According to UNHCR, the total number of forcibly displaced people around the world reached its highest level in 2018 with more than 70.8 million people, including 30 million refugees and asylum-seekers. While waiting to establish permanent lives, the vast majority of displaced people around the world are living in limbo and under constant risk of discrimination, racism, and instrumentalization by the host-country governments and political groups. As witnessed in the cases of Syrians and Central Americans, these conditions sometimes force thousands of people to take dangerous journeys seeking asylum in European countries or the United States, where they expect to find safety and better living conditions and rights.

Feminist scholarship on displaced people, refugees, and asylum seekers has noted that much of the scholarship in refugee studies barely touches on the experiences of individual refugees, and rarely considers displaced people’s everyday activities, relations and intimacies, as well as struggles of livelihood, adaptation, and integration. Focusing on everyday practices, subjectivities, and embodied experiences of displacement, feminist geographers have analyzed the intimate cartographies of border crossing experiences (Kelly, 2015), genderization of asylum practices (Hyndman & Giles, 2011), and the liminal sites where sovereign power of nation-states operates over asylum-seekers and undocumented migrant bodies (Mountz, 2011). Recent work has drawn attention to the limitations of viewing refugees as powerless victims and instead consider the knowledge that refugees build and the power that they exercise through their crossing of multiple borders and navigation of complex national and international legal systems and institutions (Kallio, Häkli, & Pascucci, 2019; Kallio & Häkli, 2019). Contrary to their presumed passivity, people with refugee backgrounds constantly organize networks, shape, negotiate, and challenge the borders, walls, and fences of refugee camps or spaces of resettlement (De Genova, 2017; Jacobsen, 2006; Karam et al. 2017; Marshall, 2013; Sanyal, 2014). Feminist perspectives have also drawn attention to gendered, class, ethnic and religious differences in refugee experience and how overlooking these differences, for example, in the design of refugee spaces or integration programs, can put individuals at risk or exacerbate their vulnerability (Dilger & Dohrn, 2016).

The papers examine any historical or geographical context concerning displaced people, refugees, and asylum-seekers from a feminist geographical perspective that emphasizes the everyday and intimate remaking of subjects and spaces. In organizing this session, we aim to build on and develop critical feminist questions and approaches to migration and displacement broadly.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Katharyne Mitchell*, University of California, Santa Cruz, Sanctuary and Insurgent Memory 15 3:05 PM
Presenter Jenna Loyd*, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Patricia Ehrkamp*, University of Kentucky, Anna Secor*, University of Durham, Vulnerable Geopolitics: Feminist Geographies of Refugee Resettlement 15 3:20 PM
Presenter Nathan Swanson*, Purdue University, "This Year’s Average Swede": "No Go Zones" in "Europe's Most Refugee-Friendly Country" 15 3:35 PM
Presenter Suad Jabr*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, “As if my right of privacy and self-determination was somehow in bad taste”: A Discourse Analysis of Queer Syrian Refugee Activist Danny Ramadan 15 3:50 PM
Presenter Sameera Ibrahim*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Contested citizenship and the politics of solidarity: Protesting Afghan deportations in the EU 15 4:05 PM

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