From Law’s Discourse on Refugees to Refugees’ Discourse on Law

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The aim of this article is to shift the focus from legal discourses on refugees rooted in victimization/securitization narrative, which dominate in the EU, to an alternative perspective on the relationship between refugeeness and law. Instead of the state-centred law’s discourse and its impact on the development of refugee subjectivities, the article turns to explore a refugees’ perspectives on law. After briefly discussing the dominant narratives as embedded in legal changes initiated during and after the so-called ‘migration and refugee crisis’ in the EU, the article turns to analysis of alternative narratives on migrants and refugees, in particular the narrative of generativity taking it beyond the constraints of methodological nationalism and Eurocentrism. In particular, the article discusses the impact of exile experience on conceptualization of the figure of the refugee by looking at work of scholars exiled from Nazi Germany in the 1930s: Hannah Arendt, Louise Holborn and Otto Kirchheimer. The analysis shows the importance of shifting perspectives – from the primacy of statehood and law to the primacy of the figure of the refugee – to gain more insight into the situatedness of law and its development in the context of asylum and mobility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRedescriptions. Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)110-128
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 513 Law
  • refugee law
  • victimization and securitization of refugee protection
  • figure of the migrant
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Louise Holborn
  • Otto Kirchheimer

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