Accepted paper:

Producing Bordered Identity and 'Refugeeness': International Organisations, NGOs and Iranian Asylum-Seekers in Italy and Turkey

Authors:

Paola Rivetti (Dublin City University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the 'making of invisible borders' as it shows in the case of Iranian asylum-seekers' process of identity construction and subjection. This process is analysed by considering how IOs and NGOs 'force' asylum-seekers into pre-established roles, de facto 'enclosing' their identity.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the 'making of invisible borders' as it shows in the case of Iranian asylum-seekers' process of identity construction and subjection. This process is analysed by highlighting how international organisations and politics, personal networks, and civil society organisations in receiving countries (Italy and Turkey) 'force' asylum-seekers into pre-established roles, de facto 'enclosing' their identity. In this case-study, the central aspects of asylum-seekers' identity are political activism and its performative power. These are considered to be a resource because Iran is a subject of great interest for a number of human rights organisations (NGOs but also organisations such as Open Society Foundation) as well as American semi-governmental organisations and media (VOA, just to name one). Peers and NGOs' pressure builds an invisible border to asylum-seekers's autonomous self-determination, governing their selves and obliging them to follow the 'script of refugeeness' in order to fit pre-established categories such as the one of 'human rights defenders'-- which secures assistance by NGOs and 'benevolence' by international organisations. The result of this multi-sited pressure is the production of invisible borders, as identity is deployed as a mean of differential inclusion and as a device to govern and classify migrant populations, whereby some asylum-seekers perform or fit 'refugeeness' better than others. This paper is based on fieldwork in Turkey in the cities of Van, Hakkari, Agri, Eskisehir, Kaiseri and Nidge, carried out since 2010; and in Italy, where I have collaborated with a number of organisations assisting asylum-seekers in 2010 and 2011.

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Pursuing utopias/challenging realities: producing and resisting borders in and out of Europe