Subscribe: Journal of Refugee Studies - Advance Access
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Journal of Refugee Studies Advance Access

Published: Thu, 14 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2017 01:45:46 GMT


Giving an Account of Persecution: The Dynamic Formation of Asylum Narratives


Asylum interviews are a central part of the refugee determination procedures where an asylum claimant’s right to receive international protection is evaluated. While research on the culture of disbelief that characterizes the asylum procedure and on the problems of interpretation and credibility assessment within the process exist, the process of giving an account of persecution has not been subjected to scrutiny. In this article, we shed light on how claimants’ narration takes shape in a dynamic space between verbal and non-verbal means of communication. Drawing on the data, we claim that non-verbal, institutional and inter-subjective practices play a central role in the construction of an asylum narrative. We suggest that the role and meanings of the non-verbal need to be studied to understand how claimants give accounts of persecution. That involves scrutinizing the institutional, interactional and psychological factors that affect claimants’ capacity to verbalize their experiences and think about the consequences of multimodality for interpretation, transcription and evaluation. This, in turn, is necessary to guarantee informed decision-making and the rights of the claimants.



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