Narratives of vulnerability: Rethinking Stories about the Figure of the Refugee

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The role of vulnerability in relation to mechanisms of governance and social welfare practices has received growing interest, but how ‘vulnerability’ is operationalised in asylum policy is less well understood. This paper explores narratives of vulnerability in relation to the figure of the refugee in Europe. Taking a narrative approach to stories told about refugees, I put forward the argument that access to asylum has gradually moved away from spontaneous asylum seeking to more controlled routes. This transition has increasingly drawn on the notion of vulnerability to highlight distinctions between people who deserve protection and those who do not. In particular, this paper focuses on the ways in which the UK Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Programme is underpinned by stories of ‘the vulnerable’ and exemplifies the latest hierarchy of rights and entitlements to emerge in relation to the figure of the refugee. I also offer insights into some of the ways in which asylum policies create the conditions where vulnerabilities are generated and produced. As such, this paper brings a critical perspective to the state increasingly narrowing the protection space for refugees and redefining ‘the vulnerable’ as an essential marker of asylum policy.
Period7 Feb 2018
Event titleInstitute of Advanced Studies Vulnerability Seminar - Narratives of Vulnerability: Rethinking Stories About the Figure of the Refugee in Europe
Event typeSeminar
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational