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How Asylum Seekers Manage Talk about Returning Home by Highlighting the Importance of Safety Shani Burke, Simon Goodman, Helen Liebling and Daniel Zadasa.

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Presentation on theme: "How Asylum Seekers Manage Talk about Returning Home by Highlighting the Importance of Safety Shani Burke, Simon Goodman, Helen Liebling and Daniel Zadasa."— Presentation transcript:

1 How Asylum Seekers Manage Talk about Returning Home by Highlighting the Importance of Safety Shani Burke, Simon Goodman, Helen Liebling and Daniel Zadasa Coventry University The Richard Benjamin Trust

2 Introduction: Asylum Seekers Asylum seekers have fled from dangerous countries, and are vulnerable people (e.g. Neumayer 2005; Stewart 2005) Face hostility in the UK, harsh measures to make life difficult for asylum seekers (Bloch and Schuster 2005; Hynes and Sales 2009) Home office decisions based on “ culture of disbelief ” (Souter 2011; Kirkwood 2012) Asylum seekers reported negative experiences of the Home Office system Liebling et al.(under submission)

3 Discursive Psychological research on asylum seeking Action not cognition (Edwards and Potter 1992) Strategies used by opponents of asylum seekers to justify harsh treatment e.g. ‘bogus asylum seeker’ (Lynn and Lea 2003) Asylum seekers orient to ‘hostility themes’ – e.g. potential criminals, an economic drain in the UK (Leudar et al. 2008) Kirkwood (2012) asylum seekers found expressing hardships difficult

4 Little discursive research analysing asylum seekers’ accounts except Leudar et al. (2008);Kirkwood (2012). This part of the research focuses on how asylum seekers talk about the notion of returning to their country of origin Asylum seekers being returned home a significant issue in the asylum debate Aims and Objectives

5 Responses to question “If you were given the chance, would you like to return to your home country?” Interviews transcribed Discourse analysis- Action orientation of talk (Edwards and Potter 1992), -How participants constructed experiences in talk, how the presented themselves as legitimate and dealt with suggestions of returning to home country Method Nine Interviews with asylum seekers

6 Extract One, ‘I would Rather go Back to my Country’ P7: It's not easy, if I didn't have a problem in my country I would rather go back to my country I: You would? P7: Yeah (I: mm) but th-the situation of mine (I: yeah) if I go there (I: yeah) oh my God (I: mm) you see? (I: yeah)

7 ‘I would Rather go Back to my Country’ Would return to home country if safe -positions herself as a legitimate refugee Two ‘If x, then y’ arguments -Presents particular consequence as likely (Wooffitt 1992) 1)If didn’t have a problem, I would return to home country 2)If I return to my home country, ‘oh my God’- ‘y’ part not fully completed Fear presented as reason to stay Next extract builds upon what this extract has shown us

8 Extract Two, ‘How can I return?’ I: What do you think of the asylum system like the Home Office and things? P8: I don't know I: You don't know. I mean do you think they treat you fair? P8: I don't know I give err too much evidence I make all my life how I escape my country I tell I don't know (I: mm) maybe I don't know understand I don't know how. She say maybe you return your country how can? I say I: What they suggested you return? P8: Yeah maybe (I: Mm) you want your country you return how can? I say, how? (I: yeah) you don't know my life

9 ‘How can I return?’ Criticism of Home Office made delicately- using hedging responses- ‘I don’t know’ ‘escape’- positioned as someone fleeing from danger “My country”- positions self as an outsider to the UK Rhetorical question- ’how can?’ undermines notion of returning back to home country Home Office presented as having a lack of knowledge - ’You don’t know my life’

10 Extract Three ‘If I go back I would die P9: It was very very cold I feel so many difficulties because of all those experiences but I can’t go back because I can go back and I would die. I can’t go back because if I go back I would die I do not have a good life here (crying) as I struggle a lot

11 Extract Three‘ I do not have a good life here, but I am safe’ I: So you would never return to Kenya because you would be worried about yourself? P9: How can go I I face death how can I go I face death? How even if yourself how you can go to a place where you face death (I: no I know) I can die there it is better I die here better than I go. I: No you're right it's better to be safe P9: Because here I don’t have anything good here I don't have any life here you understand my life what I explained to you I do not have a good life here but I am safe I stay here because for here I have never been happy even one day here (I: no) I have never been happy one day

12 Extract Three ‘If x than y’ argument-’ ‘If I go back I would die’ Repetition of ‘I face death’ Rhetorical questions -”how can I go I face death?” Constructs returning back to home country as an unreasonable notion -directed to Interviewer-“you yourself how you can go to a place where you face death” Safety only reason to stay in the UK Next extract: Participant arguing that safety is reason for being in UK as his country is at war

13 Extract Four, ‘The Country is Still at War’ P1:I did a further submission (I: yeah) in 2009 and since that I'm waiting for that (I: right) to see when they gonna refuse that one (laughter) I: So you expect that to be refused P1: God knows I don't know (I: okay) my hope I: You're hoping that they accept it P1: I been here ten years you know I: Yeah so you can say I've been here ten years P1: I been here ten years no trouble no crime (I: yeah okay) the country is still war there (I: yeah) you know

14 ‘The Country is Still at War’ Application rejected as country deemed to be safe by Home Office Ironic statement with laughter- ’see when they gonna refuse that one’ List of why should be allowed to stay in the UK - ’no trouble, no crime, the country is still war’ -Orients to ‘hostility themes’ (Leudar et al. 2008) Uses the ongoing war to reject the claim that his home country is safe

15 Summary Notion of safety used as the main argument against suggestions of asylum seekers returning home Safety is used to justify why asylum seekers should stay in the UK-a fear of danger or death if they return to home countries Home countries contrasted with the UK in terms of safety

16 Discussion Supports research that shows asylum seekers have fled from dangerous situations (e.g. Neumayer 2005) and face hostility in the UK (e.g Hynes and Sales 2009) Asylums seekers challenged hostility themes (Leudar et al. 2008) -Positioned themselves as genuine refugees, not here for financial gain or to cause problems

17 Implications Home Office need to improve their policies, focusing on safety (Liebling et al. under submission) Prevention of ‘culture of disbelief’,(e.g Kirkwood 2012) so asylum seekers are not sent back to unsafe countries Advocates need to strongly argue for the importance of safety as a reason for asylum seekers to remain in the UK

18 Conclusion Safety used by asylum seekers as an important reason to stay in the UK Participants positioned themselves as genuine refugees fleeing from dangerous countries Safety should be a key concern of Home Office systems- asylum seekers must not be sent back to countries if it means they will be in danger

19 Key References Edwards, D. and Potter, J. (1992) Discursive Psychology. London:Sage. Leudar, I., Hayes, J., Nekvapil, J. and Turner Baker, J. (2008) ‘Hostility Themes in Media, Community and Refugee Narratives’. Discourse and Society 19, Liebling, H., Burke, S., Goodman, S. and Zadasa, D. (Under submission) ‘Understanding the Experiences of Asylum Seekers’. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care.


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