'Freedom from seizure' : law and asylum in conflict

Behrman, Simon Alexander (2016) 'Freedom from seizure' : law and asylum in conflict. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

The central argument of this thesis is that law and asylum are fundamentally incompatible. In contrast to the standard claim that the coming of refugee law has been key in guaranteeing a space of protection for refugees, I argue that law has been instrumental in eliminating spaces of protection, not just from one’s persecutors, but also from the biopolitical grasp of sovereign power. This thesis is presented in three parts. First I examine the genealogy of asylum. By uncovering certain fundamental aspects of its construction, namely its concern with defining space rather than people, and its role as a space of resistance or otherness to sovereign law, I demonstrate that asylum has historically been antagonistic to law, and vice versa. In the second part, I look briefly at the development of international refugee law, and in doing so present a counter-history to the idea that this process was about restricting the caprice of states in relation to the admission of refugees and was grounded in humanitarian concern. Instead, I argue that refugee law was constructed precisely to ensure the effective management of large movements of forced migrants. Finally, in the third part of the thesis, I treat the US Sanctuary Movement (1981-1991) as a concentrated example of what happens when the old tradition of asylum confronts modern refugee law. Here many of the themes of parts one and two are revisited, but with the added twist that now the ideology of refugee law serves to hegemonise and undermine the practice of asylum/sanctuary from within.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Law
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2016 13:47
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/172

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