Dissertation Abstracts

Governmentality and Performativity of the Asylum Process

Author: Dagg, Jennifer , jennifer.dagg@nuim.ie
Department: School of Political Science & Sociology
University: National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Supervisor: Prof Mark Haugaard
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Governmentality , Performativity , Subjectivity , Refugees
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Migration , Theory


This thesis is about the construction and performance of subject positions. Specifically, these include the subject position refugee and its negative constituent the bogus asylum seeker. Such a construction has over time become problematised throughout Europe and on the Irish asylum platform. This thesis reflects primarily the Irish platform in which the subject position refugee became problematised. As such, a genealogical investigation examines the emergence and problematisation of asylum in Ireland. A governmentality perspective focuses upon the regime of practices, the rationalities and technologies that activate a particular mode of governance in respect of asylum seekers.

This thesis argues that the mode of governance, or subjectification process, in relation to asylum seekers is one of security, and the securitisation of asylum throughout Europe, Ireland included. This mode of governance creates a realm of abjection or state of exception in which the asylum seeker is curtailed in limbo. In Ireland, this limbo period is particularly visible through the dispersal and direct provision system that it operates. This thesis has a twofold focus upon the limbo period: firstly, the application process by the asylum seeker that I argue elicits a Procrustean style tactic of power, and secondly, the negotiation of encounters by asylum seekers as they excavate their way through the limbo period.

This thesis fundamentally examines the subjectification process of asylum seekers, that is, how they are subjected to power relations that dominate them, but also how they resist this form of domination. What emerges is the complex and intricate relationship between domination and resistance and perhaps the inevitable new subject positions that this forms.

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