Entrapping Asylum Seekers: Introduction

  • Alison Gerard
  • Francesco Vecchio
Part of the Transnational Crime, Crime Control and Security book series (TCCCS)


Asylum seekers are immediately recognizable as a population that faces increasing levels of legal, social and economic precariousness, inherited from their home countries and exacerbated by widespread hostility in host or destination countries that feel anxious, if not outright threatened, by the risk asylum seekers are perceived to pose. This book conceptualizes the precarity endured by asylum seekers as entrapment, and seeks to identify the agents and processes that contribute to this cycle and produce the lived experience of immiseration that has been brought to bear on asylum seekers. This chapter introduces the conceptual framework that forms the genesis of this book evaluating the entrapment of asylum seekers. The case is made for a strident analysis of agency so that asylum seekers are not represented as passive victims. And yet this chapter reveals how asylum seeker responses to their environment may further their precarity and criminalization, reinforcing the policies, practices and discourses of the securitization of migration.


  1. Aas, K. F. (2011). “Crimmigrant” bodies and bona fide travelers: Surveillance, citizenship and global governance. Theoretical Criminology, 15(3), 331–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aas, K. F., & Bosworth, M. (Eds.). (2013). The borders of punishment: Migration, citizenship, and social exclusion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Agamben, G. (1995). Homo sacer: Il potere sovrano e la nuda vita [The sovereign power and bare life]. Torino: Einaudi.Google Scholar
  4. Agier, M. (2011). Managing the undesirable: Refugee camps and humanitarian government. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. Agnew, R. (1992). Foundation for a general strain theory of crime and delinquency. Criminology, 30(1), 47–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anderson, B., & Ruhs, M. (2010). Researching illegality and labour migration. Population, Space and Place, 16(3), 175–179. doi: 10.1002/psp.594.Google Scholar
  7. Bauman, Z. (1998). Globalisation: The human consequences. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Black, R. (1993). Refugees and asylum seekers in Western Europe: New challenges. In R. Back & V. Robinson (Eds.), Geography and refugees: Patterns and processes of change. London/New York: Belhaven Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bloch, A., & Chimienti, M. (2011). Irregular migration in a globalising world. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 78, 1–15.Google Scholar
  10. Bosworth, M., & Guild, M. (2008). Governing through migration control. British Journal of Criminology, 48(6), 703–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Butler, J. (2004). Precarious life: The power of mourning and violence. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  12. Castles, S. (2003). Towards a sociology of forced migration and social transformation. Sociology, 37(1), 13–34. doi: 10.1177/0038038503037001384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chambliss, W. (2011). Police and law enforcement. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, R. (2006). Migration and its enemies: Global capital, migrant labour and the nation-state. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  15. Coutin, B. (2010). Confined within: National territories as zones of confinement. Political Geography, 29, 200–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crisp, J. (2007). Vital distinction. Refugees, 148, 4–14.Google Scholar
  17. Dauvergne, C. (2008). Making people illegal: What globalisation means for migration and law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. De Genova, N. P. (2002). Migrant “illegality” and deportability in everyday life. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 419–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Falk, R. (1999). Predatory globalization: A critique. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. Freeman, G. P. (1994). Can liberal states control unwanted migration? The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 534(1), 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gerard, A. (2014). The securitisation of migration and refugee women. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Gibney, M. J. (2004). The ethics and politics of asylum: Liberal democracy and the response to refugees. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gibney, M. J., & Hansen, R. (2005). Asylum policy in the west: Past trends, future possibilities. In G. J. Borjas & J. Crisp (Eds.), Poverty, international migration and asylum (pp. 70–96). Houndmills/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Giddens, A. (1981). A contemporary critique of historical materialism, vol. 1: Power, property and the state. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  26. Goodwin-Gill, G., & McAdam, J. (2007). The refugee in international law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Guarnizo, L. E. (2012). The fluid, multi-scalar, and contradictory construction of citizenship. In M. P. Smith & M. McQuarrie (Eds.), Remaking urban citizenship: Organizations, institutions, and the right to the city (pp. 11–35). London: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  28. Guild, E. (2009). Security and migration in the 21st century. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  29. Haddad, E. (2008). The refugee in international society: Between sovereigns. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hammar, T. (2001). Politics of immigration control and politicisation of international migration. In M. A. B. Siddique (Ed.), International migration into the 21st century: Essays in honour of Reginald Appleyard (pp. 15–28). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  31. Harrell-Bond, B. (2002). Can humanitarian work with refugees be humane? Human Rights Quarterly, 24(1), 51–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Haugen, H. Ø. (2012). Nigerians in China: A second state of immobility. International Migration, 50(2), 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Huot, S., Bobadilla, A., Bailliard, A., & Rudman, D. L. (2016). Constructing undesirables: A critical discourse analysis of “othering” within the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. International Migration, 54(2), 131–143. doi: 10.1111/imig.12210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Huysmans, J. (2006). The politics of insecurity: Fear, migration and asylum in the EU. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Johansen, N. B. (2013). Governing the funnel of expulsion: Agamben, the dynamics of force, and minimalist biopolitics. In K. F. Aas & M. Bosworth (Eds.), The borders of punishment: Migration, citizenship, and social exclusion (pp. 257–272). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Joppke, C. (1998). Why liberal states accept unwanted immigration. World Politics, 50(2), 266–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kapoor, I. (2013). Celebrity humanitarianism: The ideology of global charity. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Keely, C. B. (2001). The international refugee regime(s): The end of the Cold War matters. International Migration Review, 35(1), 303–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Khosravi, S. (2010). ‘Illegal traveller’: An auto-ethnography of borders. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Koser, K. (1997). Social networks and the asylum cycle: The case of Iranians in the Netherlands. International Migration Review, 31(3), 591–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Koser, K. (2006). Irregular migration. In B. Marshall (Ed.), The politics of migration: A survey. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Landolt, P., & Goldring, L. (2010). The long term impacts of non-citizenship on work: Precarious legal status and the institutional production of a migrant working poor, viewed 15 August 2012.
  44. Loescher, G. (1993). Beyond charity: International cooperation and the global refugee crisis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Malkki, L. H. (1995). Refugees and exile: From “refugee studies” to the national order of things. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24, 495–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mann, T. (2015). Australian law dictionary. Sydney: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Mohanty, C. T. (2003). Feminism without borders. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moore, K. (2013). “Asylum shopping” in the neoliberal social imaginary. Media, Culture & Society, 35(3), 348–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mountz, A. (2010). Seeking asylum: Human smuggling and bureaucracy at the border. Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  50. Muus, P. (Ed.). (1997). Exclusion and inclusion of refugees in contemporary Europe. Utrecht: ERCOMER.Google Scholar
  51. Núñez, G. G., & Heyman, J. M. (2007). Entrapment processes and immigrant communities in a time of heightened border vigilance. Human Organization, 66(4), 354–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pickering, S. (2005). Refugees and state crime. Sydney: The Federation Press.Google Scholar
  53. Polanyi, K. (2001). The great transformation: The political and economic origins of our time. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  54. Sassen, S. (1996). Losing control? Sovereignty in an age of globalization. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Schierup, C. U., Alund, A., & Likic-Brboric, B. (2016). Migration, precarization and the democratic deficit in global governance. International Migration, 53(3), 50–63. doi: 10.1111/imig.12171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sciurba, A. (2009). Campi di forza: percorsi confinati di migranti in Europa [Force fields: Migrant confined paths in Europe]. Verona: Ombre Corte.Google Scholar
  57. Squire, V. (2009). The exclusionary politics of asylum. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stein, B. N. (1986). The experience of being a refugee: Insights from the research literature. In C. Williams & J. Westermeyer (Eds.), Refugee mental health in resettlement countries (pp. 5–23). Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publications.Google Scholar
  59. Tyler, I. (2013). Revolting subject: Social abjection and resistance in neoliberal Britain. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  60. UNHCR. (2010). Convention and protocol relating to the status of refugees. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Available at:
  61. UNHCR. (2016). Global forced displacement hits record high. UNHCR News. Available at:
  62. Van Hear, N. (1998). New diasporas: The mass exodus, dispersal and regrouping of migrant communities. London: UCL Press.Google Scholar
  63. Van Hear, N., & Crisp, J. (1998). Refugee protection and immigration control: Addressing the asylum dilemma. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 17(3), 1–27.Google Scholar
  64. van Liempt, I., & Doomernick, J. (2006). Migrant’s agency in the smuggling process: The perspectives of smuggled migrants in the Netherlands. International Migration, 44(4), 165–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vecchio, F. (2013). La promessa e la realtà dell’asilo in Asia. In I. S. M. U. Fondazione (Ed.), XIX Rapporto sulle Migrazioni 2013 (pp. 203–213). Milan: FrancoAngeli.Google Scholar
  66. Vecchio, F. (2015). Asylum seeking and the global city. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  67. Webber, F. (2012). Borderline justice: The fight for refugee and migrant rights. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  68. Weber, L. (2006). The shifting frontiers of migration control. In S. Pickering & L. Weber (Eds.), Borders, mobility and technologies of control (pp. 21–44). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Weber, L. (2011). Policing non-citizens. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  70. Weber, L. (Ed.). (2015). Rethinking border control for a globalizing world: A preferred future. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  71. Weber, L., & Pickering, S. (2011). Globalization and borders: Death at the global frontier. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zetter, R. (2007). More labels, fewer refugees: Remaking the refugee label in an era of globalization. Journal of Refugee Studies, 20(2), 172–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zizek, S. (2016). La nuova lotta di classe: rifugiati, terrorismo e altri problemi coi vicini [Against the double blackmail: Refugees, terror and other troubles with the neighbours]. Milano: Ponte alle Grazie.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Gerard
    • 1
  • Francesco Vecchio
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Law and JusticeCharles Sturt UniversityBathurstAustralia
  2. 2.AnthropologyChinese University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations