Affordable Access

Contesting identities in exile: an exploration of collective self-understanding and solidarity in Refugee Community Organisations in Glasgow

eSharp, University of Glasgow
Publication Date
  • Political Science


Social empowerment and social engagement are notions not normally associated with the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees. Stateless, rootless, powerless, excluded, stripped of identity, the general consensus, rather, is that asylum seekers have come to represent all that is socially disengaged and disempowered in late capitalist modernity. Nonetheless, there is another experience of living under asylum that is emerging. As individuals navigate the ascribed 'asylum seeker identity' with its imputed behaviours, they also mobilise into collectives which, through an appropriation of the asylum seeker label and collective solidary action, transform their social reality into one that enables, engages, and empowers. Using data from preliminary empirical research, I suggest the experience of living under asylum can be best described as a contemporary experience of non-settlement, from which an asylum consciousness emerges. From this collective self-understanding, a sense of solidarity develops and this is explored through the lens of Refugee Community Organisations, identified in this paper as transformative social and cultural spaces for asylum seekers to fulfil the need to develop social connections in the absence of traditional social and kinship structures. This reframes the experience of living under asylum as a process of collective social transformation. Data is drawn from early stage research with representatives from five Refugee Community Organisations in Glasgow from different African countries, including Congo DRC, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Uganda.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.