Accepted paper:

"Being like a state": the narrative of refugee policy in Australia. Analysing legislation and policy affecting refugees of the "Asylum Legacy Caseload"

Authors:

Hanne Worsoe (University of Queensland)

Paper short abstract:

Examining Australian policy towards boat-arriving refugees, state power reverberates across all dealings with them. When policy is punitive and objects of policy are precarious non-citizens, detention is but one expression of state power.

Paper long abstract:

In examining Australian policy towards boat-arriving refugees, state power reverberates through all dealings with these seekers of safety. Detention is but one expression of state power under a regime of punitive policy which creates precarious non-citizens. Over 36,000 asylum seeking people exist in a state of confinement in Australian communities. Playing on the title of Scott's 1998 book, Seeing Like a State, state "behaviour" is first examined through Australian legislation and policy directed at boat-arriving, asylum-seeking people. Foucauldian discourse analysis and Verschueren's linguistic approach are combined to illustrate how confinement of asylum-seeking peoples occurs, even when they have shown to be refugees. The futures of people who have arrived by boat in Australia since 2012 are socially engineered within a broader regime of national identity, so they are confined, separate, even as they live within communities. Prevented from ever settling permanently, these boat-arriving asylum-seeking people are denied access to a range of community services; having crossed Australia's borders unasked, they must now be contained. Corroborated by interviews with asylum-seeking people, I demonstrate how confinement is normalised and regulated, beyond the razor wire of detention.

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panel P004
Confinement as a category of practice and a category of analysis [Anthropology of Confinement Network]