Journal of Sociology: OnlineFirst — A selection of articles:
‘Art is my language’: Afghan cultural production challenging Islamophobic stereotypes / Bilquis Ghani, Lucy Fiske
Afghans and Afghanistan have, since September 11, risen to prominence in Western popular imagination as a land of tradition, tribalism and violence. Afghan women are assumed to be silent, submissive, and terrorised by Afghan men, who are seen as violent patriarchs driven by an uncompromising mediaeval religion. These Islamophobic tropes also inform perceptions of Afghans seeking asylum. In transit, identities are further reduced; asylum seekers lose even a national identity and become a Muslim threat – criminals, terrorists or invaders. These narrative frames permeate political discourse, media, and reports of non-governmental organisations (seeking donor funds to ‘save’ Afghan women). Drawing on fieldwork in Afghanistan and Indonesia, this article looks at how Afghans in Kabul and Indonesia are using art and other forms of cultural production to challenge over-simplified hegemonic narratives in the West, to open spaces for dialogue and expression within their own communities, and to offer a more nuanced account of their own identities.
Blurred lines: Detaining asylum seekers in Britain and France / Mary Bosworth, Marion Vannier
In this article, we explore the use of immigration detention for asylum seekers in Britain and France who are awaiting removal to other European Union (EU) member states for processing under the terms of the Dublin Convention. As we will show, the emphasis on risk assessment as the grounds for detaining these people recasts humanitarian protections as security matters, effectively folding asylum seekers into a broader criminalisation of migration. A punitive response to those seeking refuge, this practice blurs the line between detention and asylum, and thereby hollows out key international human rights protections that have been central to the European project.
The past five decades have witnessed a dramatic growth in immigration controls. The external controls have expanded, but at the same time, there has been a proliferation of internal control measures. The British state has increasingly resorted to using penal machinery to punish people who violate immigration laws. Individuals can now be prosecuted under the criminal law and receive custodial sentences for immigration crimes. This article draws upon narratives, interviews and experiences of asylum seekers who were imprisoned for such crimes, in order to understand how their trauma is exacerbated and ways in which injuries are strategically and deliberately inflicted by the state and built within legal and policy frameworks. It draws attention to the racist nature of the crimmigration system and production of violence.
Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers has been found to constitute a regime of cruelty and neglect that amounts to torture. This article seeks to answer the question: how did Australia become a state that uses torture on refugees? It uses Freud’s work on mourning and melancholia to suggest the majority of the Australian electorate made a decision to forgo the work of mourning in 1996, to deny the need to bury the myth of the kindly coloniser. This stillborn mourning became melancholia. As a consequence of denying the need to bury the myth of the kindly coloniser, a majority of the electorate reverted to the primitive and defensive split position to create a ‘good’ compassionate and generous Australia to the ‘bad’ manipulative refugees. Isolation, propaganda, law as tactic and privatising detention then led to an operationalising of this defensive melancholia, which ultimately culminated in torture.
In 2008, findings from the People’s Inquiry into Detention were published as Human Rights Overboard: Seeking Asylum in Australia. The People’s Inquiry, led by social work academics in Australia, exposed injustices within Australia’s privatised detention network for asylum seekers and interrogated policies and practices that ensued since mandatory immigration detention was introduced by legislation in 1992. With reference to the global context, the article presents a snapshot of policies and practices revealed by the People’s Inquiry that were considered antithetical to human rights and discusses this extensive undertaking within a broader context of asylum seeker social movements and professional advocacy endeavours that continue as harsh policies escalate. The article speaks to the resilience of the asylum seeker movement, often against the odds, a movement that includes responsive and tenacious professional groups.
Racist mobilisation and sexualisation in the ‘refugee debate’ in Germany / Michaela Köttig, Johanna Sigl
In our article, we focus on the racist mobilisations that are reflected in the so-called refugee debate in Germany. Special emphasis is placed on the discussion around real and supposed sexualised violence from (young) male refugees towards girls and women. Based on selected examples (Night of New Year’s Eve in Cologne 2015/16, Women’s March and protests after migrant murders of women), we analyse the racialisation of sexism that is being undertaken by the far right, but is being increasingly supported in large parts of society. To explain this phenomenon, we adopt a historical perspective considering Germany’s colonial past and the period of National Socialism.
Xenophobia towards asylum seekers: A survey of social theories / Michelle Peterie, David Neil
In recent decades, there has been a global rise in fear and hostility towards asylum seekers. Xenophobia – or ‘fear of the stranger’ – has become a pressing issue in a range of disciplines. Several causal models have been proposed to explain this fear and the hostility it produces. However, disciplinary boundaries have limited productive dialogue between these approaches. This article draws connections between four of the main theories that have been advanced in the existing literature: (1) false belief accounts, (2) xenophobia as new racism, (3) sociobiological explanations and (4) xenophobia as an effect of capitalist globalisation. While this article cannot provide an exhaustive review of theories of xenophobia, it aims to present a useful comparative introduction to current research into the social aspects of xenophobia, particularly as these theories have been applied to asylum seekers. In bringing together divergent models, it also invites interdisciplinary engagement.
SOURCE: “Special issue: Asylum Seekers in the Global Context of Xenophobia” Journal of Sociology Online First. SAGE website viewed 3 December 2019.
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