Literature and Dissidence under Direct Provision: Melatu Okorie and Ifedinma Dimbo

  • Sara Martín-Ruiz
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


Martín-Ruiz offers a critical analysis of two literary narratives about Direct Provision: ‘Shackles’ by Melatu Okorie, and ‘Grafton Street of Dublin’ by Ifedinma Dimbo. Both Okorie and Dimbo are former asylum seekers now living in Ireland. Through the literary analysis of these two short stories, the political agency of asylum seekers against the racial and racist immigration policies of the Irish Republic is examined. Martín-Ruiz focuses on certain themes which reflect crucial aspects of life in Direct Provision: the relationship of asylum seekers with their surroundings; the distorted perception of time; their enforced poverty; and a state of constant surveillance. Despite similarities between the realities represented in both stories, the outcome of each ranges from disobedience to non-compliant acceptance of sanctioned representations of ‘good’ refugees.

Works Cited

  1. Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  2. Agier, Michel. Managing the Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government. Cambridge: Polity, 2011.Google Scholar
  3. Ahmed, Sara. Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.Google Scholar
  4. Augé, Marc. Non-Places. Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. Trans. John Howe. London and New York: Verso, 1995.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, Pierre. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  6. Dimbo, Ifedinma. “Why the Chicken is Used in Sacrifice.” In Takinga the Wise Man and Other Stories from Around the World, 76–9. Dublin: SPIRASI, 2008.Google Scholar
  7. ———. “Grafton Street of Dublin.” In Dublin: Ten Journeys, One Destination, 45–61. Malahide: Irish Writers’ Exchange, 2010.Google Scholar
  8. ———. She Was Foolish? Malahide: Irish Writers’ Exchange, 2012.Google Scholar
  9. Fanning, Bryan. Racism and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  10. Feldman, Alice, and Anne Mulhall. “Towing the Line: Migrant Women Writers and the Space of Irish Writing.” Éire-Ireland47, nos. 1–2 (2012): 201–20.Google Scholar
  11. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage, 1975.Google Scholar
  12. Hage, Ghassan. “Against Colonial Rubbishing.” Critical Legal Thinking, 2013., accessed 15 September 2016.
  13. Hickman, Mary J. “Immigration and Monocultural (Re)Imaginings in Ireland and Britain.” Translocations: The Irish Migration, Race and Social Transformation Review 2, no. 1 (2007): 12–25.Google Scholar
  14. Johnson, Heather L. Borders, Asylum and Global Non-Citizenship: The Other Side of the Fence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.Google Scholar
  15. Lentin, Ronit. “From Racial State to Racist State: Ireland on the Eve of the Citizenship Referendum.” Variant 2, no. 20 (2004): 7–8.Google Scholar
  16. Martín-Ruiz, Sara. “‘The Way the Irish Asylum System Turns People into Un-Human is My Problem’: An Interview with Ifedinma Dimbo.” Estudios Irlandeses 10 (2015): 109–14.Google Scholar
  17. ———. “Melatu Okorie: An Introduction to Her Work and a Conversation with the Author.” LIT: Literary Interpretation Theory 28, no. 2 (2017): 172–84.Google Scholar
  18. Mulhall, Anne. “Dead Time: Queer Temporalities and the Deportation Regime.” Social Text: Periscope. Time Binds (2014)., accessed 24 September 2016.
  19. Nedeljkovic, Vukasin. Asylum Archive., accessed 20 March 2017a.
  20. ———. “Asylum Archive: An Archive of Asylum and Direct Provision in Ireland.” About Borders, Bodies, Homes 2 (2017b)., accessed 25 April 2017.
  21. Okorie, Melatu. “Gathering Thoughts.” Metro Éireann, 15–21 October 2009. 12–3.Google Scholar
  22. ———. “Shackles.” In Dublin: Ten Journeys, One Destination, 139–51. Malahide: Irish Writers’ Exchange, 2010.Google Scholar
  23. ———. “If George Could Talk.” In Alms on the Highway. New Writing from the Oscar Wilde Centre Trinity College Dublin, ed. Edel Corrigan, 133–44. Dublin: Myrtle, 2011.Google Scholar
  24. ———. “Under the Awning.” College Green. Trinity’s Postgraduate Arts and Humanities Magazine (Winter 2016)., accessed 20 March 2017.
  25. ———. “This Hostel Life.” LIT: Literary Interpretation Theory 28, no. 2 (2017), 185–93.Google Scholar
  26. O’Shea, Sinead. “Asylum Seekers in Limerick on Hunger Strike.” Irish Times, 18 August 2014., accessed 19 March 2017.
  27. Roche, Barry. “Asylum Seekers Mount Protest at Cork Direct Provision Centre.” Irish Times, 15 September 2014., accessed 19 March 2017.
  28. Sheridan, Anne. “Hunger Strike at Knockalisheen Asylum Centre Ends After Talks.” Limerick Leader, 6 May 2015., accessed 19 March 2017.
  29. Working Group Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, Including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers. June 2015., accessed 9 July 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Martín-Ruiz
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarZaragozaSpain

Personalised recommendations