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Seeking AsylumHuman Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border$
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Alison Mountz

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816665372

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665372.001.0001

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Ethnography of the State

Ethnography of the State

(p.55) Chapter 3 Ethnography of the State
Seeking Asylum

Alison Mountz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the contingent nature of the state’s response to human smuggling. It traces the daily struggles of civil servants charged with policing borders and exposes the political nature of this work. It shows that the movements of asylum seekers or refugee claimants, despite their decreasing numbers and the increasingly aggressive legal practices to exclude them, often will translate into crisis. The state is performative, and it excels at the performance of crisis in border policing. Such performances increase the vulnerability of those seeking protection, as they often create situations when enough political will amasses to move policy agendas forward. The more visible the arrival of asylum seekers, the greater the crisis, and the greater its potential to advance policy in the name of securitization over protection.

Keywords:   ethnography, human smuggling, bureaucracy, civil servants, migration, immigration policy, border policing

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