Welling up asylum seekers’ memories

Clemens Bernardt, Bettina van Hoven



“Memories well up out of the depths of the unconscious and/or work away as (dis)enabling background. They are not static information, but are reworked in the light of current practice, and at the same time shape that practice” (Jones and Garde‐Hansen, 2012: 161).The aim of the forthcoming paper is to gain insight in the precarious process of welling up the sometimes hidden memories of asylum‐seekers staying in an Asylum Seekers’ Residence Centre (ASCR). I will discuss how these living memories are framed and fixed in the asylum‐procedure. In order to study and define an asylum‐seeker’s identity and motivations for seeking refuge, the asylum‐procedure evokes his or her memories. Herlihy & Turner (2007) assert that the chance of being granted asylum is mainly based on the asylum‐seeker’s ability “to recount a coherent, consistent narrative, describing past experiences of past persecution, which fit the definition of the Geneva Convention […]. However, for many, neither remembering nor relating some of the most horrific experiences of their lives is easy” (Herlihy & Turner, 2007: 268). The data for the study, consisting of a research‐diary, interviews and sketches, are collected in an ASRC in The Netherlands. Both in‐ and outside this centre its inhabitants remain confined within the time‐space of the extended procedure. For at least halve a year, but often much longer they have to wait for the Immigration and Naturalisation Service to study their asylumrequests. Uncertain about their future they are continuously reworking their painful or even traumatic memories.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 2014
EvenementRGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014 - RGS-IBG, London, United Kingdom
Duur: 26-aug-201429-aug-2014


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014
Land/RegioUnited Kingdom

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