Refugeeship - A project of justification : Claiming asylum in England and Sweden

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Education, Stockholm University

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to explore the asylum process from an experiential perspective, starting in the country of origin, fleeing, claiming asylum and being granted refugee status. The theoretical interest is to contribute with an understanding of how this asylum process impacts on personal meaning-making, focusing on identification and positioning work of the person forced to flee and make an asylum claim. With this purpose in mind, I have remained close to the experiences of the participants talk made visible through interpretative analysis. Drawing on a discursive-psychological approach, 19 interview-cases (10 in England and 9 in Sweden) have been analysed consisting of stories of the migration process: life in the country of origin, fleeing, claiming asylum and being granted refugee status. This talk includes rich description of what this has involved for these participants, in terms of the more existential aspects of this kind of migration, identification and positioning, as well as their attempts to give this process some sort of meaning. This I name refugeeship. The results show that refugeeship is characterised by a multitude of implicit and explicit questionings concerning the refugee’s rights and duties. Implicit questions concerning the refugee’s flight, starting in the country of origin are followed by explicit questions when encountering the official legal system of asylum in the new country, which involves an erosion of sense of self. The refugee stories express what I call the moral career of refugeeship, illustrating the events in refugeeship which are ongoing, though changeable over time and space and incorporate a moral dimension. The refugee finds him or herself continuously justifying the migration, struggling for recognition and convincing ‘Others’ that one can in fact become a contributing member of  the new society.

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