Waiting as probation

Waiting as probation: Selecting self-disciplining asylum seekers

Lorenzo Vianelli, Nick Gill & Nicole Hoellerer (2021)


This article diagnoses and critiques a type of governmentality associated with waiting during protracted asylum appeal procedures by drawing upon data from a multi-methodological study of asylum adjudication in Europe. Focusing on Austria, Germany and Italy, we explore the use of integration-related considerations in asylum appeal processes by looking at the ways in which these considerations permeate judges’ decision-making, particularly, but not exclusively, on the granting of national, non-EU harmonised protection statuses. Building on insights from the literature on conditional integration we question the implicit socio-political biases and moral assumptions that underpin this permeation. We show that the use of integration-related considerations in asylum appeals transforms migrant waiting into a period of probation during which rejected asylum seekers’ conducts are governed and tested in relation to the use of time. More than simply waiting patiently, rejected asylum seekers are expected to wait productively, whereby productivity is assessed through the neoliberal imperatives of entrepreneurship, autonomy and self-improvement. We thus contribute to scholarship on migrant waiting by showing how time is capitalised by state authorities even when – and actually because – it offers opportunities for migrants.

Keywords: Governmentality, waiting, asylum adjudication, refugee integration, humanitarian protection, asylum seekers

Vianelli, Lorenzo; Gill, Nick and Hoellerer, Nicole (2021) Waiting as probation: Selecting self-disciplining asylum seekers. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 48 (5), 1013-1032.

DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1926942

This is an open access paper, available here.