Queer disruptions to truth and credibility assessment within asylum procedures
|Director of thesis||Professor Aditya Bharadwaj|
|Co-director of thesis|
|Summary of thesis||
The European Parliament declared the EU an “LGBTIQ freedom zone” on 11 March 2021. Unfortunately, announcements of this nature frequently exclude the freedoms of many LGBTIQ people on the soils of European countries. This project will illuminate the experiences of one such group: queer asylum seekers. Being required to prove not only the persecution they have faced but also their sexual or gender identity itself (Spijkerboer, ed. 2013), queer asylum seekers are disproportionately disadvantaged by the “culture of disbelief” within bureaucratic asylum procedures (Anderson et al. 2014; Jubany 2017; Souter 2014). Noting the dissonance between commitments to LGBTIQ+ freedoms on the one hand and inconsiderate credibility assessment practices on the other, I ask what the case of queer asylum seekers informs us about the assertion and assessment of truth, as understood both within asylum systems and in anthropology. My project will draw on two invigorating developments in anthropological scholarship on asylum, one regarding the construction and application within asylum procedures of discourses around “authentic” expressions of queerness, and another that critiques credibility assessment within asylum systems. Conducting over 15 months of fieldwork involving participant observation and interviews at associations supporting queer asylum seekers and refugees in Switzerland, I will generate a rich ethnographic account of queer asylum seekers’ attempts to prove their identities and produce the “truth of sex” (Foucault 1978, 56). This project will also illuminate how they respond to the collision between their truth-establishing conventions and those of asylum authorities. By exploring asylum seekers’ imagined alternatives to notions of truth circulating within asylum systems, which invalidate their experiences of queerness and persecution, I will produce output of relevance for anthropologists and social scientists interested in debates around migration and sexuality, as well as practitioners advocating the rights of queer asylum seekers.
|Administrative delay for the defence||2025|