Accepted Paper:

The intimacies of waiting: boredom and asylum seeking in Greece  
Heath Cabot (University of Pittsburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the boredom and intimacy of asylum seeking in Greece.

Paper long abstract:

Asylum seeking entails an often protracted period of legal limbo, of waiting (Kobelinsky 2010), in which the claimant is subject to temporal and spatial liminality in relation to the state where he or she seeks protection. This period of legal limbo is also accompanied by periods of bureaucratic liminality that are deeply material and sensorially rich: waiting rooms, waiting for papers that may or may never arrive, returning again and again to offices whose "true" function may remain obscured to claimants and legal advocates alike (Hoag 2014). In these spaces of waiting, boredom often becomes a defining affective mode, punctuated by, and sometimes saturated with, profound anxiety and even despair. Yet boredom can also create openings for fleeting socialities between claimants, bureaucrats, and advocates, which are crucial to making lives livable and may even have transformative potential. Based on ten years of ethnographic research on asylum seeking in Greece, one of the Europe's most porous external borders now facing economic and political crisis, I explore the intersection between waiting, boredom, and sociality. I argue that despite the forms of subjectification and violence at its core, boredom is often at the heart of new forms of intimacy and even solidarity that arise through asylum seeking on Europe's thresholds.

Panel P068
Boredom, intimacy and governance in 'normalized' times of crisis