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Geopolitics of Disability and the Ablenationalism of Refuge

Loyd, Jenna M.; Secor, Anna J.; Ehrkamp, Patricia

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Jenna M. Loyd

Patricia Ehrkamp


Although it has rarely been addressed as such, the regulation of disability within migration governance is a geopolitical issue. This article examines how refugee resettlement intersects with ablenationalism, an ideology that treats disability as exceptional, thereby shoring up the exclusionary terms of citizenship. Drawing on findings from our multi-sited study (2016–2019) of the resettlement of Iraqis to the US, we show how the fantasy of the ‘disability con’ and fantasy of the ‘bogus refugee’ feature overlapping logics. Asylum officers routinely question asylum seekers’ narrations, pointing to holes in logic, inconsistencies, embellishment, and perceptions of scripted stories as reasons for denying asylum claims. Our study shows how these moments of suspicion can double-up or intertwine for refugees seeking disability exceptions in the naturalisation process. We argue that the disenfranchisement of those who seek naturalisation on these grounds reproduces ablenationalist exclusion and shores up a geopolitics of impairment and militarised refuge.


Loyd, J. M., Secor, A. J., & Ehrkamp, P. (2023). Geopolitics of Disability and the Ablenationalism of Refuge. Geopolitics,

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 2, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Apr 6, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 11, 2023
Journal Geopolitics
Print ISSN 1465-0045
Electronic ISSN 1557-3028
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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