Fragmentation of Hope through Tiny Acts of Bureaucratic Cruelty - Another Kind of War on Afghan People Seeking Asylum in Sweden

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.41064

Keywords:

asylum, hope, bureaucratic cruelty, departheid, ethnography

Abstract

This article analyzes the micro-powers of Swedish “cruel” and “non-cruel” bureaucrats using various logics of control, “tiny acts” enacted with pens, computers, and imposed assignments to condition asylum-seeking peoples’ lives and fragment their hope. Based on interviews with asylum-seeking Afghans and observations of their meetings with authorities, I argue that the bureaucratic treatment of Afghans in Sweden is a form of state-sanctioned racist violence and “departheid” executed to exclude discredited people from the welfare state. The article draws attention to a rapid downhill slide regarding asylum rights in Sweden since 2015 and the harm caused to asylum-seeking people.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Torun Elsrud, Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden

Torun Elsrud is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, in Kalmar, Sweden. She can be reached at torun.elsrud@lnu.se.

References

Abdelhady, D. (2020). Media constructions of the refugee crisis in Sweden: Institutions and the challenges of refugee governance. In D. Abdelhady, N. Gren, & and M. Joormann (Eds.), Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in northern Europe (pp. 122–143). Manchester University Press.

Abdelhady, D., Gren, N., & Joormann, M. (Eds.). (2020). Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in northern Europe. Manchester University Press.

Act (2016:381) amending the Act (1994:137) on the reception of asylum seekers and others [Sweden].

Act (2016:752) on temporary restrictions on the possibility of obtaining a residence permit in Sweden [Sweden]. https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/lag-2016752-om-tillfalliga-begransningar-av_sfs-2016-752

Act (2021:765) amending the Aliens Act [Sweden]. https://svenskforfattningssamling.se/doc/2021765.html

AIDA (Asylum Information Database). (2015, December). Detriment of the doubt: Age assessment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (Legal Briefing No. 6). European Council of Refugees and Exiles. https://www.refworld.org/docid/568fcfb94.html

AIDA (Asylum Information Database). (2017). Country report: Sweden. European Council of Refugees and Exiles. https://www.asylumineurope.org/sites/default/files/report-download/aida_se_2017update.pdf

Ahmed, S. (2010). The promise of happiness. Duke University Press.

Ahmed, S. (2018, December 20). Strategic inefficiency. feministkilljoys. https://feministkilljoys.com/2018/12/20/strategic-inefficiency/

Anderson, B. (2017). The politics of pests: Immigration and the invasive other. Social Research: An International Quarterly, 84(1), 7–28. https://doi.org/10.1353/sor.2017.0003

Arendt, H. (1969, February 27). Reflections on violence. The New York Times Review of Books. https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1969/02/27/a-special-supplement-reflections-on-violence/

Bauman, Z. (1995). Life in fragments. Wiley-Blackwell.

Belabas, W., & Gerrits, L. (2017). Going the extra mile? How street‐level bureaucrats deal with the integration of immigrants. Social Policy & Administration, 51(1), 133–150. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12184

Bendixsen, S., & Eriksen, T. H. (2021). Time and the other: Waiting and hope among irregular migrants. In M. K. Janeja & A. Bandak (Eds.), Ethnographies of waiting: Doubt, hope and uncertainty (pp. 87–112). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003085317-4

Bhatia, M. (2020). The permission to be cruel: Street‑level bureaucrats and harms against people seeking asylum. Critical Criminology, 28, 277–292. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-020-09515-3

Bhatia, M., & Lentin, R. (2022). Migration and racist state violence: Introduction. State Crime Journal, 11(1), 5–11. https://www.jstor.org/stable/48675910

Brekke, J.-P., & Brochmann, G. (2014). Stuck in transit: Secondary migration of asylum seekers in Europe, national differences, and the Dublin regulation. Journal of Refugee Studies, 28(2), 145–162. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feu028

Eagleton, T. (2017). Hope without optimism. Yale University Press. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvj7wnnv

Elsrud, T. (2020). Resisting social death with dignity: The strategy of re-escaping among young Asylum-seekers in the wake of Sweden’s sharpened asylum laws. European Journal of Social Work, 23(3), 500–513. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2020.1719476

Elsrud, T., Gruber, S., & Lundberg, A. (Eds.). (2021). Rättssäkerheten och Solidariteten—vad hände? En antologi om mottagande av människor på flykt [The rule of law and solidarity—what happened to it? An anthology about the reception of asylum-seeking people]. Linköping University Press.

Elsrud, T., Lundberg, A., & Söderman, E. (2023). Transversal sanctuary enactments in Sweden: Challenges, opportunities and implications. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 49(14), 3629–3648. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2023.2198810

Eurostat. (2023, August 16). First instance decisions on applications by citizenship, age and sex—Annual aggregated data. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/MIGR_ASYDCFSTA__custom_7115207/default/table?lang=en

Fassin, D. (2015). Introduction: Governing precarity. In D. Fassin & Y. Bouagga (Eds.), At the heart of the state: The moral world of institutions (pp. 1–14). Pluto Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt183p5tb

Fine, M. (2017). Just research in contentious times: Widening the methodological imagination. Teachers College Press.

Fontanari, E. (2017). It’s my life: The temporalities of refugees and asylum-seekers within the European border regime. Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa, 1, 25–54. https://doi.org/10.3240/86886

Fontanari, E. (2020). Lives in transit: An ethnographic study of refugees’ subjectivity across European borders. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351234061

Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (A. M. Sheridan, Trans.). Penguin.

Galtung, J. (1969). Violence, peace, and peace research. Journal of Peace Research, 6(3), 167–191. https://doi.org/10.1177/002234336900600301

Garvik, M., & Valenta, M. (2021). Seeking asylum in Scandinavia: A comparative analysis of recent restrictive policy responses towards unaccompanied Afghan minors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Comparative Migration Studies, 9, Article 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40878-020-00221-1

Gupta, A. (2012). Red tape: Bureaucracy, structural violence, and poverty in India. Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv125jn9d

Hagström, A., Hollander, A.-C., & Mittendorfer-Rutz, E. (2018, January 31). Kartläggning av självskadebeteende, suicidförsök, suicid och annan dödlighet bland ensamkommande barn och unga [Mapping of self-harming behaviour, suicide attempts, suicide and other types of mortality among unaccompanied children and young people]. Karolinska Institutet. https://flyktning.net/ressurs/kartl-ggning-av-sj-lvskadebeteende-suicidf-rs-k-suicid-och-annan-d-dlighet-bland-ensamkommande-barn-och-unga

Hansen, P. (2021). A modern migration theory: An alternative economic approach to failed EU policy (1st ed.). Agenda Publishing. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv1mvw8pm

Hedlund, D. (2016). Drawing the limits: Unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy and procedure. Holmbergs. https://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn%3Anbn%3Ase%3Auu%3Adiva-409628

Herz, M., Lalander, P., & Elsrud, T. (2022). Governing through hope: An exploration of hope and social change in an asylum context. Emotions and Society, 4(2), 222–237. https://doi.org/10.1332/263169021X16528637795399

Herzfeld, M. (1992). The social production of indifference: Exploring the symbolic roots of Western bureaucracy. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003135029

Jacobsen, C. M., Karlsen, M. A., & Khosravi, S. (Eds.). (2020). Waiting and the temporalities of irregular migration. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429351730.

Johannesson, L. (2017). In courts we trust: Administrative justice in Swedish migration courts. Stockholm University. https://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn%3Anbn%3Ase%3Asu%3Adiva-138909

Kalir, B. (2019). Departheid: The draconian governance of illegalized migrants in Western states. Conflict and Society, 5(1), 19–40. https://doi.org/10.3167/arcs.2019.050102

Kazemi, B. (2021). Unaccompanied minors (un-)made in Sweden: Ungrievable lives and access to rights produced through policy [Doctoral thesis, Gothenburg University]. Gothenburg University Publications Electronic Archive. http://hdl.handle.net/2077/68257

Khosravi, S. (Ed.). (2021). Waiting: A project in conversation [Transcript]. Columbia University Press.

Kleist, N., & Thorsen, D. (2016). Hope and uncertainty in contemporary African migration. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315659916

Krzyżanowski, M., Triandafyllidou, A., & Wodak, R. (2018). The mediatization and the politicization of the “refugee crisis” in Europe. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 16(1–2), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2017.1353189

Lems, A., Oester, K., & Strasser, S. (2020). Children of the crisis: Ethnographic perspectives on unaccompanied refugee youth in and en route to Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(2), 315–335. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2019.1584697

Lipsky, M. (2010). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public service. Russell Sage Foundation. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610447713

lisahunter, Emerald, E., & Martin, G. (2013). Participatory activist research in the globalised world: Social change through the cultural professions. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4426-4

Lundberg, A. (2017). Medicinska åldersbedömningar [Medical age examinations]. In E. Sundberg, & M. Kjellstrand (Eds.), Hör detta och lyssna till det: En antologi om flykt (pp. 68–73). Allt åt alla Malmö.

Malmqvist, E., Furberg, E., & Sandman, L. (2018). Ethical aspects of medical age assessment in the asylum process: A Swedish perspective. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 132, 815–823. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-017-1730-3

McDonald, C., & Marston, G. (2006). Room to move? Professional discretion at the frontline of welfare-to-work. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 41(2), 171–182. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2006.tb00004.x

Mostad, P., & Tamsen, F. (2019). Error rates for unvalidated medical age assessment procedures. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 133, 613–623. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-018-1916-3

Näre, L. (2020). “Finland kills with a pen”—Asylum seekers’ protest against bureaucratic violence as politics of human rights. Citizenship Studies, 24(8), 979–993. https://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2020.1769559

Noll, G. (2016). Junk science? Four arguments against the radiological age assessment of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. International Journal of Refugee Law, 28(2), 234–250. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijrl/eew020

Nordling, V. (2017). Destabilizing citizenship practices? Social work and undocumented migrants in Sweden [Doctoral thesis, Lund University]. Lund University Publications. https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/publication/93c1965b-df73-4a9b-b234-4e07ee36b9b6

SCB—Statistics Sweden [Statistikmyndigheten]. (2016, March 18). Det stora antalet asylsökande under 2015 ökade inte flyktinginvandringen nämnvärt [The large number of asylum seekers in 2015 did not significantly increase refugee immigration]. https://www.scb.se/hitta-statistik/statistik-efter-amne/befolkning/befolkningens-sammansattning/befolkningsstatistik/pong/statistiknyhet/asylsokande-grund-for-bosattning-utlandsk-bakgrund-medborgarskapsbyten-adoptioner-hushallsstatistik-och-medellivslangder-2015/

Schierup, C. U., & Ålund, A. (2011). The end of Swedish exceptionalism? Citizenship, neoliberalism and the politics of exclusion. Race & Class, 53(1), 45–64. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306396811406780

Schütze, C. (2019). Attitudes matter: Perceptions towards welfare work with migrants in Swedish welfare organisations [Doctoral thesis, Lund University]. Lund University Publications. https://www.lu.se/lup/publication/0451d47c-1c6b-4c4f-b131-3c1a668e2d74

Skodo, A. (2017, February 20). How Afghans became second-class asylum seekers. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/how-afghans-became-second-class-asylum-seekers-72437

Skodo, A. (2018). Migrant smuggling, reasons for fleeing, and uses of asylum capital among Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden. Nidaba: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle East Studies, 1–11. https://portal.research.lu.se/en/publications/migrant-smuggling-reasons-for-fleeing-and-uses-of-asylum-capital-

Skodo, A. (2020). Lesson for the future or threat to sovereignty? Contesting the meaning of the 2015 refugee crisis in Sweden. In D. Abdelhady, D. N. Gren, & M. Joormann (Eds.), Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in northern Europe (pp. 50–66). Manchester University Press. https://doi.org/10.7765/9781526146847.00010

Stockdale, K. (2019). Social and political dimensions of hope. Journal of Social Philosophy, 50(1), 28–44. https://doi.org/10.1111/josp.12270

Stockdale, K. (2021). Hope under oppression. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197563564.001.0001

Stretmo, L. (2014). Governing the unaccompanied child—Media, policy and practice [Doctoral thesis, Gothenburg University]. Gothenburg University Publications Electronic Archive. https://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/36106

Sundström, M., & Obenius, H. (2020). (De-)legitimation of migration: A critical study of social media discourses. In D. Abdelhady, D. N. Gren, & M. Joormann (Eds.), Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in northern Europe (pp. 144–158). Manchester University Press. https://doi.org/10.7765/9781526146847.00016

Svašek, M. (2010). On the move: Emotions and human mobility. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(6), 865–880. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691831003643322

Swedish Migration Agency. (2023). Asyl [Asylum]. Retrieved August 7, 2023, from https://www.migrationsverket.se/Om-Migrationsverket/Statistik/Asyl.html

Swedish National Audit Office [Riksrevisionen]. (2022). Waiting for the verdict—The migration courts' processing times in asylum cases [I väntan på dom—migrationsdomstolarnas handläggningstider i asylmål] (RIR 2022:5).

Weber, M. (1958). The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Scribners.

Published

2023-12-18

How to Cite

Elsrud, T. (2023). Fragmentation of Hope through Tiny Acts of Bureaucratic Cruelty - Another Kind of War on Afghan People Seeking Asylum in Sweden. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 39(2), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.41064

Similar Articles

<< < 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.