Accepted Paper:

Reconsidering precarity: an intersectional examination of precarity in the wake of Australian asylum-seeker policy  
Hanne Worsoe (Deakin University)

Paper short abstract:

To what extent can the concept “precarity” adequately account for diverse experiences of asylum-seeking people in Australia? With policy in constant flux and a limited appeals process, this paper considers asylum-seeking women’s experiences facing “fast-track” processing.

Paper long abstract:

From 2012, over thirty-thousand boat-arriving asylum-seeking people have existed on temporary visas in Australia. Over ninety-percent are not in detention but still exist in Australian communities in a state of precarity: legally, temporally and economically.

Issued temporary visas, all have signed behaviour contracts upon pain of refoulement, denying access to procedural justice. Subsequent legislation regarding boat-arriving asylum-seeking people has excised international human rights obligations and further procedural justice practices. Children born in Australia to boat-arriving asylum-seekers are also labelled "illegal maritime arrivals", issued temporary visas rather than birth certificates. Most recently, payments received in lieu of finding work are being withdrawn, and work rights for those appealing negative refugee claims are rescinded.

Constantly reminded of their mode of arrival, boat-arriving asylum-seeking people are not defined as active agents seeking their own human rights recognition but instead constructed through policy as transgressors of Australian sovereignty, having crossed borders without state permission.

However intersectional analysis indicates that these uniform policies affect people in diverse ways. Through recent multi-sited ethnography conducted with asylum-seeking women and the organisations and individuals supporting them, I observe how such policy diversely affects women, who form 20% of this cohort. State-enforced Australian regimes of confinement enforce precarity in many unforeseen ways for asylum-seeking women, different from their male counterparts.

Therefore, analytical concepts such as "precarity", while highlighting inequality, can obscure the effects of state intentionalities which create diverse forms of precarity when people fall between the gaps of regular laws and rights.

Panel P20
Gradated citizenship, degraded humanity and the cultural specificity of rights practice