Performing security absent the state: Encounters with a failed asylum seeker in the UK

Alexandria J. Innes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on feminist research methodologies and theory, this article re-centers critical security studies to focus on a migrant seeking an alternative form of security after his application for asylum was denied by the state. The two main objectives of this article are; first, to resituate a failed asylum seeker, Qasim, as an agent of international security as understood through his practice of seeking and obtaining security; and, second, to demonstrate a revised performative conceptualization of security through understanding the failed asylum seeker as practicing an embodied theorization of security. The encounter with Qasim shows alternative means of seeking security, which illustrates agency on the part of the migrant that exists actively outside of the state. This contests the positioning of migrants as passive victims and recognizes a way of being in the world that by necessity cannot rely on a state-based identity. Ethnographic methods, including participant observation and a narrative interview with Qasim, elucidate his practice of security and allow for the development of a theoretical conceptualization of security that remains true to a failed asylum seeker’s practice in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-581
Number of pages17
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Issue number6
Early online date22 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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