DOI: 10.1177/23996544231216891 ISSN: 2399-6544

Bordering in the archives: An investigation into a digital archive of the Irish asylum and refugee determination

Sasha Brown
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Public Administration
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Creating borders and borderlands is a key role of the contemporary state. Drawing on an investigation of the Irish state bordering complex determining asylum and refugee claims in Ireland, this article illustrates the importance of the actions of individual state agents and the cultures of practice in state agencies in bordering and statecraft. Building on scholarship studying the state, I conceive of statecraft as cultures of practices, understood within a feminist geopolitical framework. Studying these cultures of practice reveals the ways state agencies and state agents produce knowledge and how they work within complex power-geometries of social and political geographies. I investigate the Irish asylum determination process using an archival ethnography methodology to encounter an online archive of refugee appeals decisions in Ireland. This article shows one result of this encounter: a published database of asylum decision patterns and practices of the refugee appeals tribunals and of individual Tribunal members issuing decisions to people seeking asylum in Ireland. I argue this approach: (1) addresses real needs for systematic evidence of practice of Tribunal members, as requested by asylum seekers and legal representatives; (2) investigates cultures of practice in decision-making bodies in the asylum complex of the Irish state; (3) and shows the importance of archives of asylum decision-making in the state practice of bordering and statecraft. Analysis shows an asylum determination culture heavily dependent on who is doing the deciding, the decision-maker assigned is a major element in outcomes of asylum claims. I also propose a framework for identifying statecraft and bordering as the collective project of groups and individuals embedded within the state; this framework provides productive and systematic evidence of bordering and the ways individuals and groups go about doing statecraft in the asylum determination process.

More from our Archive