Can We Have a Future? Time and Desire in Australian Refugee Law

Justine Poon (Australian National University, Canberra)


Datum: 15. Oktober 2018
Zeit: 18.15 Uhr bis 19.30 Uhr
Ort: Raum 4.B54

Lecture as part of the laboratorium lucernaiuris series

The global issue of forced migration has risen to the forefront of state policy and law in conjunction with renewed focus on narratives of sovereignty. Australian refugee law of the past 25 years is an example of how, through successive reinforcement of particular narratives about asylum seekers, borders and sovereignty, the legal and political discourse can streamline the many ways of looking at the issue into one, such that the only relevant question to ask about law is whether it is effective at maintaining control of the border by keeping asylum seekers out. 

The effect of these narratives in Australia has been to turn bodies into boats - a discursive and legal transformation of a humanitarian problem into one about regulating deviant objects within the border. The “desire” of the asylum seeker is rendered problematic whilst the desire of the state to maintain a particular form of control is reified in ways that resist challenge. This dynamic is spatial and temporal. The legal framework “freezes” asylum seekers at the moment they cross the border and are captured by the law. This presentation will explore ideas on how law institutes asylum seekers into particular relationships to time. It will also raise some additional questions on how these limited conceptions of time have a potential impact on other areas of law and more generally on how law enables or denies certain forms of life.