Accepted Paper:

Constructing asylum narratives in the Swiss procedure: practices and perspectives of asylum seekers  


Raphaël Rey (University of Neuchâtel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how asylum seekers, throughout their procedures and in relation with other actors, construct asylum narratives that could make them eligible for protection. It explores the perceptions they have of the asylum system and the effects of those perceptions on their actions.

Paper long abstract:

In order to be to be granted protection, asylum seekers must be capable of presenting narratives of their flight stories that are deemed credible and truthful by the Swiss authorities. In the course of the procedure, asylum seekers pass through different stages (hearings, medical examination, etc.) and are in relation with different actors of the procedure (FOM-officers, FAT-judges, doctors, legal advisors, others asylum seekers, etc.) that are implicated in the construction of their asylum case. My contribution aims to analyze how asylum seekers construct their asylum narrative throughout the different negotiations processes with those actors. It looks at how they acquire new knowledge and resources and use strategies to produce narrative that could make them eligible for protection. It explores the different contexts and interactional settings in which the operations conducted on the asylum seekers stories take place. Since the productions of their narratives correspond to expected regimes of eligibility, I look at how applicants perceive and understand the Swiss asylum system and the actors involved in the procedure, as well as their ideas of eligibility, in order to analyze the implications these perceptions have on their choices and actions. In conducting my research, I take on the perspective of "bureaucratic paths", following asylum seekers through different stages of their procedures. It allows me to pay attention to the temporal dimension of the asylum procedure and to analyze the different steps of the process through which their stories are turned into narratives that might fit the expectations of the authorities.

Panel P045
Tracing eligibilities: moralities, performances, practices (EASA Network for Anthropology of Law and Rights)