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In chapter 3, Benjamin N. Lawrance explores the role of expertise in refugee and immigration decision-making by focusing on statelessness claims of West African migrants. Whereas arbitrarily denying citizenship or nationality is a form of persecution and may constitute a basis for refugee protection, the experience of several African migrants in Europe indicates that statelessness claims are subjected to intense scrutiny. Expertise pertaining to country conditions is increasingly employed in refugee matters, but the contours of expertise in statelessness claims have received little attention. Personal stories reveal the imbalance between individual agency and state power and the difficulties of proving statelessness, and show how seemingly unrelated matters, such as being convicted of a crime, can give rise to a context in which statelessness is almost unprovable. The fiction of a fixed and self-evident legal identity creates a context for allegations of fraud and mendacity, and the denial of statelessness claims.

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