Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Seeking Asylum

Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border

Alison Mountz
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Seeking Asylum
    Book Description:

    Seeking Asylum is a wide-ranging investigation into the power of states to change the relationship between geography and law as they negotiate border crossings. Using examples from Canada, Australia, and the United States, Alison Mountz demonstrates the centrality of space and place in efforts to control the fate of unwanted migrants.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7357-5
    Subjects: Geography

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction Struggles to Land in States of Migration
    (pp. xiii-xxxiv)

    On July 20, 1999, off the coast of British Columbia, Canadian authorities intercepted what would be the first of four boats to arrive during a period of six weeks with a total of 599 tired and hungry women, men, and children on board. TheYuan Yeecarried 123 people from the coastal province of Fujian, China. They were estimated to have been at sea for approximately thirtynine days, smuggled on retrofitted fishing trawlers from Fujian and intercepted en route to North America. The Department of National Defense (DND) first spotted the boat as it entered Canadian territorial waters, which begin...

  6. Chapter 1 Human Smuggling and Refugee Protection
    (pp. 1-22)

    IN JANUARY 1999 employees of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) at regional headquarters (RHQ) in Vancouver held tabletop simulation exercises to develop an operational response to a potential marine arrival of smuggled migrants off the western coast of Canada. In June, five months later, they led governmental partners through exercises on the water to practice modus operandi for a response. They rehearsed responses to hypothetical situations such as boarding unflagged foreign vessels at high speed. Immigration employees working in the fields of environmental scanning, strategic planning, and intelligence gathering recognized the possibility that one day such an event might occur....

  7. Chapter 2 Seeing Borders Like a State
    (pp. 23-54)

    THIS CHAPTER ENGAGES principles of vision and visual registers to aid in understanding how states see borders and how they deploy visuality as an affective register through which sovereignty is secured (see Amoore 2007).¹ The state sets its sights on transnational migrations, and ultimately becomes transnational by enacting enforcement practices along borders. Visibility proves crucial to understanding how states respond to migrants and how they catalyze publics to respond in ways that enable the advancement of enforcement agendas during highly publicized, visible, visual, and seemingly exceptional crises along their borders.

    When I first visited RHQ in Vancouver in the fall...

  8. Chapter 3 Ethnography of the State
    (pp. 55-92)

    I BEGAN RESEARCH IN 2000, during the summer following the interceptions, when everyone in the office anticipated the arrival of more boats. The months following the marine arrivals were a tumultuous time; they offered an opportunity to explore the operation of paradoxical narratives of the state as powerful and vulnerable during times of crisis. This chapter explores the daily practices of the performative state, and ensuing chapters will show how the exceptional practices in times of crisis outlined here give rise to “exceptional zones” (Agamben 1998) along the shifting margins of sovereign territory, where exclusion transpires.

    On and off for...

  9. Chapter 4 Crisis and the Making of the Bogus Refugee
    (pp. 93-120)

    ON THE SIXTEENTH FLOOR of the towering Library Square office building in downtown Vancouver sit two senior male members of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB); a refugee claimant in her twenties from the second boat intercepted from Fujian; her legal counsel; an interpreter; the Refugee Protection Officer; a representative for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; the BC corrections officer who accompanied the claimant, the latter in handcuffs and green prison uniform only moments ago; and along with myself, in the back of the small room, a representative from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We are...

  10. Chapter 5 Stateless by Geographical Design
    (pp. 121-146)

    CHAPTER 3 EXAMINED the bureaucracy, one node in a transnational network where civil servants manage migration. Chapter 4 explored the intricacies of access to the refugee determination process once people had landed on sovereign territory. This chapter moves farther out still from the center to dwell in offshore zones that render migrants stateless by geographical design. I use the term “stateless by geographical design” to signify extraterritorial locations that are neither entirely inside nor outside of sovereign territory, but that subject migrants to graduated degrees of statelessness by introducing ambiguity into their legal status.¹ This restricts, to various degrees, their...

  11. Chapter 6 In the Shadows of the State
    (pp. 147-166)

    THIS BOOK BEGAN inside the bureaucracy, but has moved gradually away from the office tower to the border and beyond, to extraterritorial sites where policing transpires.

    This circular trajectory corresponds with my own research program that brought me into ever-closer encounters with the state. My work with undocumented Mexican migrants began with those who had recently arrived in the small city of Poughkeepsie, New York, where I grew up. In the early to mid-1990s I conducted a transnational ethnography, circulating between Poughkeepsie and a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico (Mountz and Wright 1996). While the state may appear to be...

  12. Chapter 7 What Kind of State Are We In?
    (pp. 167-176)

    THIS BOOK HAS EXPLORED the relationship between discourse and practice, between the production of mobile subjectivities—the smuggled, the refugee, the spontaneous arrival, the detainee—and their abjection. Contemporary discourse on migration and asylum is indeed riddled with metaphors of exclusion by states. Australiaexcisesislands, Europeexternalizesprocessing, and Canada crafts thelong tunnel. These metaphors represent exclusionary geographies that contribute to the shrinking of spaces of asylum. Meanings of asylum, initially designed to protect, are themselves crossing into a new phase of securitization. The very border enforcement regimes developed to curb human smuggling also stop asylum seekers from...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 177-186)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-204)
  15. Index
    (pp. 205-208)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-209)