Deathscapes

Jonathan Xavier Inda, “Comments – Asylum as a Form of Life: The Politics and Experience of Indeterminancy in South Africa,” Current Anthropology

Deathscapes

A billboard is shown that reads 'Migrating? Make a Plan'. A fence is in the foreground and buses can be seek parked in the background.

Poster of the International Organization for Migration at the border with Zimbabwe, 2009. Photograph by Salym Fayad. 

Jonathan Xavier Inda, “Comments – Asylum as a Form of Life: The Politics and Experience of Indeterminancy in South Africa” by Didier Fassin, Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, and Aurelia Segatti, Current Anthropology 58(2): 179-80.

Excerpt:

“Fassin, Wilhelm-Solomon, and Segatti have written a wonderful article on asylum as a form of life. They note that people who apply for asylum in South Africa are given permits that allow them to live and work legally until their cases are adjudicated. However, for a number of reasons, including the inefficiency of the bureaucracy, the processing of asylum claims routinely takes several years. In the meantime, asylum seekers are required to renew their permits every six months. The renewal process is so cumbersome in terms of time (waiting in lines) and money (paying bribes) that many asylum seekers simply give up on it. But even those people who persevere through the entire asylum procedure do not necessarily fare any better. Most end up with their claims being rejected. From a legal status that offers a modicum of protection, then, most asylum seekers fall into illegality. As undocumented migrants, they become subject to increased police harassment and ultimately to detention and deportation. The indeterminacy between the condition of asylum seeker and undocumented migrant, according to the authors, is what characterizes the form of life particular to asylum seeking. In other words, asylum as a form of life is about state produced legal and social precarity. It is about the contingent lives that result from legal, political, and bureaucratic indeterminacy.”


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