The paper develops the concept of threshold to explore the everyday experiences of asylum seekers in Germany. It investigates how residential accommodations used as asylum seekers’ camps function as border places within the national territory. It also adds to the theoretical debate on the creation of border places within national and urban territories in Europe, highlighting the existence of a plurality of camps as structures that produce the experience of confinement. This points to a fragmented border space within European territories and cities rather than external lines surrounding ‘Fortress Europe’. This paper draws on ethnographic work to show how, within the fragmented European border space, asylum seekers in Germany experience a predicament of confinement, focusing on everyday life in the residential accommodations (the Wohnheime). Although these structures are open, the asylum seekers living inside perceive them as prisons due to the unnoticed symbolic violence that the spaces impose. This experience of confinement was grasped through three analytical dimensions—spatial, temporal and relational—; furthermore, this paper shows how it is reinforced by the legal system, specifically administrative law and legal status, as exemplified by the Duldung (rejected refugee status). This paper uses the concept of threshold intended as a condition of time suspension, non-belonging and in-betweenness to explore this multi-dimensional experience of confinement and how it affects asylum seekers’ sense of self. In the process, it argues that asylum seekers are ultimately relegated to a threshold of citizenship.

Confined to the threshold : The experiences of asylum seekers in Germany / E. Fontanari. - In: CITY. - ISSN 1360-4813. - 19:5(2015 Oct 07), pp. 714-726. [10.1080/13604813.2015.1071112]

Confined to the threshold : The experiences of asylum seekers in Germany

E. Fontanari
2015

Abstract

The paper develops the concept of threshold to explore the everyday experiences of asylum seekers in Germany. It investigates how residential accommodations used as asylum seekers’ camps function as border places within the national territory. It also adds to the theoretical debate on the creation of border places within national and urban territories in Europe, highlighting the existence of a plurality of camps as structures that produce the experience of confinement. This points to a fragmented border space within European territories and cities rather than external lines surrounding ‘Fortress Europe’. This paper draws on ethnographic work to show how, within the fragmented European border space, asylum seekers in Germany experience a predicament of confinement, focusing on everyday life in the residential accommodations (the Wohnheime). Although these structures are open, the asylum seekers living inside perceive them as prisons due to the unnoticed symbolic violence that the spaces impose. This experience of confinement was grasped through three analytical dimensions—spatial, temporal and relational—; furthermore, this paper shows how it is reinforced by the legal system, specifically administrative law and legal status, as exemplified by the Duldung (rejected refugee status). This paper uses the concept of threshold intended as a condition of time suspension, non-belonging and in-betweenness to explore this multi-dimensional experience of confinement and how it affects asylum seekers’ sense of self. In the process, it argues that asylum seekers are ultimately relegated to a threshold of citizenship.
asylum seekers; borders; camps; citizenship; Europe; Urban Studies; Geography, Planning and Development
Settore SPS/07 - Sociologia Generale
Settore SPS/08 - Sociologia dei Processi Culturali e Comunicativi
Settore SPS/10 - Sociologia dell'Ambiente e del Territorio
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/368397
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