Telling stories of resistance and ruination: Women seeking asylum

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This paper examines the relationships between narratives which have come to dominate in the twenty-first century about people seeking asylum and women’s stories of resistance and ruination. Identifying two narratives – the “hate figure” and the “female victim” – I develop understandings about some of the social, legal and historical contexts in Britain in which these narratives have come to dominate. Drawing on an Economic and Social Research Council funded project with women seeking asylum to explore some of the ways narratives can generate
possibilities for some women, this paper also identifies how narratives can be deeply problematic for those who struggle to tell a story. Taking a feminist perspective and narrative approach, four analytical frameworks are used to make sense of how and why women tell their stories, offering a critical theoretical engagement with the concepts of resistance and ruination. The analysis opens up an important space that highlights the importance of narrative forms of resistance and consequently enriches our understanding of the diversity of forms of feminized resistance in the context of the emerging field of resistance studies. In doing so, I also explore how and why women might tell stories of ruination and some of the constraints placed on their stories. I position resistance as necessary for research processes that seek to disrupt and challenge the formation of dominant narratives. I argue for new and different narratives which accommodate some of the complexities and contradictions of women’s lives and open up the possibilities for women to tell their own diverse and different stories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-64
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Resistance Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


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