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Distrust and collaboration : exploring identity negotiation among asylum seekers in East Anglia, Britain
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Sophia RainbirdSophia Rainbird
Drawing on fieldwork carried out in 2002–2003, this paper reveals the complexity of interactions between asylum seekers in East Anglia as they negotiate the shared experience of place, the British immigration system and a common and competitive goal of attaining refugee status. There is tension and a distrust generated by people who are forced to live in an inter-ethnic community and share the competitive goal of obtaining immigration status. Yet, this forced coexistence forges strong friendships, alliances and collaboration amongst asylum seekers. It is in taking into account these seemingly contradictory interactions that marks the concern of this paper; the more that asylum seekers attempt to distance and differentiate themselves from the collective and shared identity of asylum seekers, the more entangled they become within a collective asylum seeker identity. This struggle tells us that the very contestation of an asylum seeker identity is a form of resistance put forth by asylum seekers to address an identity that is largely imposed by the state and host society. This has broader implications on the extent to which an imposed identity and its resistance impact on the successful integration of asylum seekers and refugees into larger society.