Mainstream discourse tends to reduce the concept and practice of asylum to narrowly-defined moral and legal questions. Western countries are morally ranked by the size of their quotas and the performative enthusiasm of their humanitarian rhetoric. Asylum seekers themselves are discussed as either cynical opportunists gaming the system, or noble victims of a distant, peripheral barbarism. The granting of asylum, no matter how limited, is rendered as an act of national altruism. Asylum for Sale sweeps these facile narratives aside. By marshaling a diverse chorus of voices—including academics, journalists, activists, artists, and people directly impacted by asylum regimes—the book illuminates a vast, transnational industry of exploitation and profit-seeking that permeates and structures every facet of the asylum process. This is a circuitous world in which people driven from their homes by the latest drone bombing or CIA-engineered coup become commodities of for-profit detention camps run by the same corporations that fund legal aid NGOs. Asylum for Sale is an essential volume to carry forward into the political landscape of the post-Trump world. A nonpartisan consensus among most political elites for the asylum regime—and not incidentally, for U.S. imperialism and neoliberal capitalism writ large—is poised to endure, as new forms of organized resistance rise to challenge the status quo.
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 Vogue, Rewire 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.