Slow resistance: resisting the slow violence of asylum

Natasha Saunders*, Tamara Al-Om

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

In this article we seek to expand on the developing interest in Slow Violence and how it relates to immigration and asylum, by exploring how such violence is resisted. Following Foucault’s insight that in order to better understand power, it helps to study resistance to it, we draw on original research into acts of protest by refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland, and connect this to existing research on experiences of and resistance to the UK asylum system. In so doing we offer ‘Slow Resistance’ as a potentially useful concept with which to understand resistance not just to a particular configuration of power relations, but to a particular form of violence. The conceptual utility of Slow Resistance lies in its ability to illuminate: the particular operations of power/violence in the UK asylum system; the multiple forms of resistance to this violence/power; how these forms of resistance may be connected (thus discouraging the ‘silo-ing’ of analysing different forms of resistance); and how time is creatively engaged with by such forms of resistance. If, as has been argued, a particular challenge of slow violence is representational – how to devise arresting images and stories adequate to this form of violence – then resistance has the potential to focus our attention on it, and to gradually prepare the ground for meaningful change. While developed here in relation to the UK asylum system, slow resistance is a concept that we think can be useful in a wide range of contexts in which slow violence operates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-547
Number of pages24
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Volume50
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Asylum
  • Refugees
  • Resistance
  • Protest
  • Slow violence
  • UK

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