Incarcerated Refugees and Impossible Domesticity

Friday, January 6, 2017: 12:10 PM
Mile High Ballroom 1C (Colorado Convention Center)
Nayan B. Shah, University of Southern California
The paper examines the precarity of Asian, Latin American and African refugees in the late 20th and early 21st century. This study examines the deterioration of state protections for women, men, and children who claim refugee status in Europe, US, Canada and Australia by investigating patterns of carceral detention and government suspicion in the detention and deportation practices in the United States (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and California), UK (Yarls Wood), and offshore island sites north of Australia. Government policy has heightened accusations of negligent parenting, bodily pathology and ignored reports of sexual harassment and assault. The transnational migrant displacement and disruption of “home” has been exacerbated by carceral strategies that divide migrants by gender and migration trends that make children and youth isolated and vulnerable. Legal advocacy for refugees has attempted to protect and aid migrants, speed up processing and challenge governments to address neglect, violence and the precarity in detention. Using the analytic of queer domesticity, I juxtapose the material objects that migrants carry against the unmet needs of material resources in detention and the overwhelming carceral utilization of mass commodity nutritional and personal care substances.  In processes of detention, deportation and resettlement, asylum seekers engage and redefine the technologies, material substances and social ties that both imaginatively shape “home” and the experiences of refugee homelessness.
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