Abject Asylum: Degradation and the Deliberate Infliction of Harm against Refugees in Britain

Vicky Canning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The prospect of gaining refugee status in the United Kingdom is ever diminishing for people seeking sanctuary in Europe. The long term agendas of dualistically offshoring border controls and embedding bureaucratic barriers to gaining refugee status within British borders has narrowed the scope for safe passage and asylum. They have bolstered a spatial and temporal limbo which grinds at the wellbeing of refugee populations. This article draws a zemiological focus to argue that, rather than bi-products of a failing system, the outcomes of such practices are deliberate inflictions of harm in a system designed to ostracise, isolate and Other. Drawing from interviews and oral history in Britain, three key harms are unpacked: autonomy harms; relational harms; and temporal harms. By taking a social harm perspective, and naming deliberate inflictions as such, we gain potential for creating a language that mirrors the reality of everyday harms in asylum, thus finding collaborative ways to mitigate these.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-60
Number of pages25
JournalJustice, Power and Resistance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for the Study of Poverty and Social Justice


  • borders
  • women
  • harm
  • asylum
  • violence


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