Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration
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Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration

Edited by Katharyne Mitchell, Reece Jones and Jennifer L. Fluri

Border walls, shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, separated families at the border, island detention camps: migration is at the centre of contemporary political and academic debates. This ground-breaking Handbook offers an exciting and original analysis of critical research on themes such as these, drawing on cutting-edge theories from an interdisciplinary and international group of leading scholars. With a focus on spatial analysis and geographical context, this volume highlights a range of theoretical, methodological and regional approaches to migration research, while remaining attuned to the underlying politics that bring critical scholars together.
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Chapter 30: Contradictions and provocations of neoliberal governmentality in the US asylum seeking system

Deirdre Conlon


Governmentality and neoliberal governmentality offer productive frameworks in analyses of efforts to control migration and (im)mobility. Recently, scholars have identified the need for more attention to complex and messy articulations of neoliberal governmentality. This chapter takes up this call with a focus on the US asylum seeking adjudication process. The author outlines asylum application and adjudication procedures and then details a system that is replete with bureaucracy and contradiction. Asylum seekers are disciplined yet called upon to be ever more entrepreneurial. Resources are redirected toward securitization, resulting in scarcity, higher caseloads, and longer wait times for asylum case decisions. Heightened demand for unassailable evidence increases the value of expertise yet ‘truth’ in the context of asylum is increasingly delegitimized. This presents several challenges for legal representation and migrant support groups who must calculate the value of and trade-offs in providing expertise and support. The chapter closes with a further call and provocation to engage with the contradictions of the neoliberal governmentality of asylum as a messy yet necessary imperative for critical geographies of migration.

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