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On not seeking asylum: migrant masculinities and the politics of refusal

Newhouse, L.S.

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Much contemporary research on precarious mobility starts from the perspective that people moving across borders will seek out opportunities for legal protection, if these are available to them. However, this is not always the case, as some migrants who would qualify for asylum or refugee status choose not to seek legal recognition of their status. This paper is an ethnographic exploration of people who refuse to seek asylum. I examine how such refusals are narrated and made sense of from the vantage point of Juba, South Sudan. Taking seriously these refusals as agentive decisions, the paper explores how men who have the informational and material resources to chart paths that bypass juridical protection narrate refusal through their own grammars of masculinity. Thinking with refusal is generative in two important ways. First, refusal refocuses attention away from the specificities of particular power geometries and towards the underlying juridical orders and assumptions on which these geometries rely. Second, refusal offers a window into the social constellation and relations in which such migrants actively invest. Building on work that explores the intersection between masculinity and mobility, I show how gendered ideologies shape not just the decision to embark on a new migration project, but also inform how migrants evaluate the legal status-destination dyad as they plot their futures.


Newhouse, L. (2021). On not seeking asylum: migrant masculinities and the politics of refusal. Geoforum, 120, 176-185.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 24, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 12, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2023
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 120
Pages 176-185


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