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Navigating Borders: How Rejected Asylum Seekers Resist Local Border Experience

October 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Asylum seekers whose asylum requests are denied and who do not follow the order to leave the country are deemed “illegal” in Switzerland. While lacking formal residence status, their presence and stay are known to the immigration authorities. However, they cannot work, have a bank account or rent a home and are excluded from what Arendt calls the basic “right to have rights.”

With an engaged ethnographic approach, this presentation brings attention to the ways illegalised migrants experience and contest local bordering processes in public spaces, prisons and camps. First, it sketches out the political mechanisms that produce an invisible carceral environment and detention structures to coerce rejected asylum seekers to leave the country. Second, it argues that these mechanisms are linked to a history of ‘othering’ and policing of marginalised communities in Switzerland. Third, it contends that illegalised migrants resist and challenge politics of control by engaging in social, cultural and political activities thereby claiming the right to belong.

About the speaker

Claudia Wilopo is a PhD candidate at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology, University of Basel. She holds a Master in Urban Studies and is currently a visiting scholar with Laurier’s International Migration Research Centre (IMRC). Her research interests are migration, racial profiling, intersectionality, bordering and citizenship practices in Europe. Claudia holds a Swiss National Science Foundation scholarship and has recently co-authored a book on Racial Profiling in Switzerland published in German with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Co-sponsored by the International Migration Research Centre.


October 10, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


In Person
Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2 Canada
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(226) 772-3001
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