Unmasking the Cultural Construction of Asylum Screening at the Border

  • Olga Jubany
Part of the Transnational Crime, Crime Control and Security book series (TCCCS)


The asylum screening process at borders is largely perceived as a legislative, administrative and political action, detached from personal inference, exempted from prejudice and disengaged from its historic-cultural background. Thus, immigration officers are seen as mere enforcers, unaccountable for their decisions but responsible for the enaction of a rule. This chapter questions this assumption to argue that beyond the implementation of rules, asylum screening responds to profound cultural constructions articulated through the actions and interactions of immigration officers. Stemming from the phenomenological understanding that subjective meanings give rise to an apparently objective social world, this chapter reveals that asylum screening is a complex categorizing and labelling process guided by the assembly of certain ‘truths as knowledge’ about social acceptance and rejection. Grounded on an unprecedented ethnography of immigration officials’ training routines in the UK, the analysis evidences how asylum screening is forged within an immigration subculture, which remains largely unaffected by legal and policy regulations but is saturated by the meta-messages of disbelief, denial and moral panics.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Jubany
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social AnthropologyUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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