This panel addresses individual and collective refugee and asylum seeker experiences of lives in limbo in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Over the last two decades, a number of Southeast Asian countries have become important transit countries for asylum seekers and refugees looking for permanent protection in Australia or other resettlement countries. Moreover, some of these transit countries are also home to significant 'stable' populations of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, who have spent prolonged time in waiting there. Australia's latest asylum and migration policy changes under the Abbott government have brought significant changes also for the wider Asia-Pacific region and the handling of asylum seekers and refugees. Next to a number of bilateral agreements and collaboration between Australia and its neighbours, which paved the way for permanent resettlement options outside Australia (Nauru, Cambodia), the Australian policies and bordering interests that seek to defer asylum seekers from coming to Australia have also been transmitted through the work of international organisations. By pushing its border policies further into the Asia-Pacific region, asylum seekers and refugees are left with fewer options to reach Australia regularly and irregularly and face ever more prolonged times in transit. Given the reluctance of some transit countries to take responsibility for these asylum seekers and refugees, overall conditions for them are mostly declining. The panel aims at bringing together ethnographic contributions that deal with how people at the receiving end of these policies deal with, mitigate or evade them. We especially welcome papers that relate to and provide innovations to policy-making in this area.