Asylum seeker materiality and identity-building: Shapers of socio-legal incarceration

Francesco Vecchio

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter, I draw on my participatory observation conducted as an outsider with two groups of about 10 male asylum seekers each to explain why many asylum seekers in Hong Kong live in spaces that can be defined as ‘slums’. An argument is made that asylum seekers’ choice of dwelling is a consequence of their socio-legal incarceration or confinement within a condition akin to detention, which limits and structures their identity and agency. Given structural factors that produce asylum seeker estrangement and marginalization, identity-based claims are made upon which asylum seekers act to ensure their survival. In so doing, however, they are responsible for shaping the exclusionary context that fashions their struggle to survive and gain a measure of control over their lives. A process of entrapment is thereby evinced, one in which asylum seekers are ensnared for political and economic reasons.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEntrapping asylum seekers
Subtitle of host publicationSocial, legal and economic precariousness
EditorsFrancesco Vecchio, Alison Gerard
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781137587398
ISBN (Print)9781137587381
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameTransnational crime, crime control and security


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