How to be a ‘Good Asylum Seeker’? The Subjectification of Young Men Seeking Asylum



This research focuses on the subjectification of young asylum-seeking men. By subjectification, we mean the effort an individual invests in detecting, negotiating, meeting and contesting the surrounding discursive expectations. The underlying question is: if someone wants to fulfil the position ascribed to them, that is be a ‘good asylum seeker’ and respond to the surrounding demands as much as possible, what would then, in fact, be a ‘good asylum seeker’? The data consists of interviews and ethnographic hanging out with nine young asylum-seeking men throughout their asylum process. Based on their reflections on the discourses of the surrounding society, a ‘good asylum seeker’ is patient, active, positive and grateful; he normalises racism he faces and accepts prejudice towards himself. A ‘good asylum seeker’ also accepts the position of a less worthy human being, acknowledging that in an ideal situation he would be entirely away, out of sight or in another subject position. Our findings showcase the sheer impossibility of successfully filling the asylum seeker subject position, as the requirements are contradictory and unrealistic. Paradoxically, it could be said that a ‘good asylum seeker’ is no longer an asylum seeker.


Asylum seekerSubjectificationSubject positionNomadic research
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 3
  • Page/Article: 284–300
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.389
  • Submitted on 28 Aug 2020
  • Accepted on 19 Feb 2021
  • Published on 3 Sep 2021
  • Peer Reviewed