Memory, Language and Silence: Barriers to Refuge Within the British Asylum System

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Abstract

In the British refugee system, to be granted refugee status the asylum seeker must prove that he or she has a “well-founded fear” of persecution and is unable to seek protection from the necessary authorities within his or her country of origin. Accordingly, gaining refuge rests upon the telling of a story and having that story be believed. In this sense, language is central to the process of asylum. But it also becomes one of the central barriers to attaining refugee status. This article analyses various barriers to the articulation of a credible and coherent story in the British asylum, such as memory, trauma, and silence, and examines how these barriers can impact detrimentally upon the success of asylum seeker applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-184
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies
Volume17
Issue number2
Early online date20 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • refugee
  • language
  • silence
  • memory
  • Britain
  • trauma
  • Asylum

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