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Accidents, Agency and Asylum: Constructing the Refugee Subject
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Accidents, Agency and Asylum: Constructing the Refugee Subject

Author: Simon Behrman Affiliation: Law School, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, UK
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:Law and Critique, v25 n3 (201411): 249-270
Summary:
Refugee law demands that the asylum seeker demonstrate an extremely limited and distorted form of agency that is encapsulated within the legal definition of the refugee. Such a framework also denies the role of the accidental in the refugee experience. I argue that the problem lies at the heart of the legal form, as constructed under capitalism. The sans-papiers show us the potential for refugees themselves to reconstruct a subjectivity that transcends the distorted form of agency and the false dichotomy between the accidental and agency found in law, through their rejection of legal definitions and the re-emergence of themselves as political subjects.  Read more...
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Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Simon Behrman Affiliation: Law School, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, UK
ISSN:0957-8536
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 5690450805
Notes: Acknowledgments: I would like to thank the organisers and participants at the December 2011 University of Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory, who first encouraged me to think through some of the issues dealt with here. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their very useful comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer about authorial responsibility of course applies.
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Abstract:

Refugee law demands that the asylum seeker demonstrate an extremely limited and distorted form of agency that is encapsulated within the legal definition of the refugee. Such a framework also denies the role of the accidental in the refugee experience. I argue that the problem lies at the heart of the legal form, as constructed under capitalism. The sans-papiers show us the potential for refugees themselves to reconstruct a subjectivity that transcends the distorted form of agency and the false dichotomy between the accidental and agency found in law, through their rejection of legal definitions and the re-emergence of themselves as political subjects.

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