Asylum, Borders, and the Politics of Violence: From Suspicion to Cruelty

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Abstract

Abstract Critical scholarship in international relations, border, and migration studies has analyzed the cultures of suspicion that underpin border practices and have increasingly reshaped the politics of asylum globally. They have highlighted either the generalization of suspicion through the securitization of asylum or racialized and gendered continuities of colonial violence. We propose to understand the entanglements of continuity and discontinuity in the politics of asylum through “technologies of cruelty.” To conceptualize technologies of cruelty, we draw on Etienne Balibar's “topographies of cruelty” and Rita Laura Segato's “pedagogies of cruelty.” Empirically, the article argues that technologies of cruelty minimize, erase, undo, splinter, and devalue asylum seekers’ claims for protection in ways that objectify and dehumanize them. Methodologically, the argument is developed through an analysis of a corpus of asylum appeal decisions in the United Kingdom. Asylum appeals are a particularly important archive for the diagnosis of cruelty internationally, as they are both inscriptions of dominant knowledge and contestations over knowledge and claims to protection. They also allow us to trace how the politics of asylum is situated within global topographies of cruelty, shaped by technologies of cruelty and the deactivation of empathy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Studies Quarterly
Volume2
Issue number2
Early online date22 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2022

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