Adrienne Pine's Blog, Review, Siobhan McGuirk's Blog

‘Asylum for Sale’ — A Review in The Journal of Refugee Studies

By Aydan Greatrick
Journal of Refugee Studies
December 31st, 2020

Processes of securitization and militarization increasingly define contemporary asylum systems, shaping how states and Non-Governmental Origanizations (NGOs) operate, respond to, and represent refugees. From narratives of ‘deservingness’, to representations of ‘bogus’ economic migrants, the politics of asylum becomes disbelieving and exclusionary. This edited collection makes an incisive intervention here, exploring how capitalism, neoliberalism, and profit-making have not only helped drive such processes, but are central to them. From the outsourcing of responsibility for refugees by states in the Global North who sign border security contracts with multinationals, to the procurement of cheap
exploitable labour in detention centres, we see how rights-based norms have been eroded by the lure of profit. The edited volume aims to ‘expose and examine profit-making as a significant force driving contemporary asylum regimes’ (4). This moves beyond legal, ethical,and moral questions common in forced migration and asylum scholarship, towards a focus on new systems of governance and profit that are prospering at great human cost. The volume is clearly animated by questions of practice and
action, merging academic critique with a clear-sighted commitment to activism and protest. In particular, the volume recognizes and builds on the work of activist groups who are organizing to challenge contemporary asylum systems and their reliance on profit. This gives the volume an urgency sometimes lacking in refugee scholarship, in part because it both names the structures and processes shaping contemporary asylum systems and addresses how different groups are responding to and resisting them. This makes the volume of great relevance to both academic audiences, and those working in the non-mutually exclusive arenas of activism, campaigning, and asylum support. The volume features a diverse set of creative, personal, theoretical, and practice-based reflections from practitioners, activists, detained migrants, asylum seekers, artists, writers, and academics. As a result, this collection persuasively exposes an industry of profit-making by state and non-state actors alike and brings to the fore instances of protest and resistance as they are taking place in different spaces and contexts.

Siobhan McGuirk – In addition to her academic publications addressing gender and sexuality, migration, and social justice movements, McGuirk is an award-winning filmmaker, curator and editor for Red Pepper magazine. Her writing has appeared in Teen VogueRewire News, and Australian Options. She received her Doctorate in Anthropology from American University in 2016 and holds a Masters in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester. She is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Adrienne Pine is a critical medical anthropologist whose work has explored the embodiment of structural violence and imperialism in Honduras, cross-cultural approaches to revolutionary nursing, and neoliberal fascism. She has served as an expert country conditions witness in around 100 asylum cases over the past fifteen years. Adrienne is an assistant professor at the American University and author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras

Check out Adrienne Pine and Siobhán McGuirk’s & new book: