Accepted Paper:

Precarious religious subjectivity in contexts of refugee adjudication processes  

Author:

Michael Nijhawan (York University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper, part of a broader project on precarious diasporas, pays attention to how the adjudication of refugees/asylum seekers relates to the everyday realm of lived religion and ethical self-fashioning among Sikhs and Ahmadis in Frankfurt.

Paper long abstract:

This paper, part of a broader project on precarious diasporas, pays specific attention to how the adjudication of refugees and asylum seekers relates to the everyday realm of lived religion and ethical self-fashioning among Sikhs and Ahmadis in the Frankfurt/Main region, where I have conducted intermitted phases of ethnographic research between 2003-13. In this paper, I will discuss how the governance of the category of religion affects Sikh and Ahmadi migrants differently, contingent on their legal categorization (the legal construction of 'religious persecution' as opposed to 'political activism' in the asylum court), the policing of places of congregational practice (such as the Sikh gurdwara) and the complex interactions and power relations that become manifest in how refugees and asylum seekers are forced to maneuver and negotiate the uncertainties of the organizational and institutional aspects of their respective communities in the context of state-enforced policies. This paper will also focus on how harsh socioeconomic realities intersect with the daily labor of fashioning religious selves. I do so through an inductive method that pays close attention to how subjects articulate moral sentiments and use specific speech genres to address violence and suffering in their daily encounters, forms of speech that are not already normatively pre-scripted and open up possibilities for alternative social imaginaries.

Panel RM-MRB02
Disturbing the category of the "refugee": cross-border histories, hospitalities and everyday practices of sovereignty