Narratives of Resistance: Listening to Women Seeking Asylum in the United Kingdom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the in-depth narratives of six women asylum seekers1 and examines what they say about resistance. In making sense and meaning of our lives, we all engage in telling and retelling stories. These stories are broadly social and relational accounts, located both historically and culturally2. Central to my approach is the assumption that the world is social and relational, and that stories are selected through telling and listening, accommodating moments of uncertainty and discrepancy. I proceed on the basis that “social life is itself storied and that narrative is an ontological condition of social life”.

The women asylum seekers whose data I consider for this chapter were selected from a larger Economic and Social Research Council funded qualitative narrative study which I carried out with 17 women asylum seekers living in the UK. The omen gave profound accounts of victimisation; atrocities committed against them as women and girls. Their fears of persecution had brought each of them to claim asylum in the UK and seek legal protection. All of the women identified their experiences of gender-based and gender specific persecution4 whereby they had been violated and wounded. However, these persecutions were not the only topics of their stories, nor were their narratives just about their victimisation. There were also narratives of resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisplaced Women
Subtitle of host publicationMultilingual Narratives of Migration in Europe
EditorsLucia Aiello, Joy Charnley, Mariangela Palladino
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781443855280
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


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