Drawing on a distinction made by J. L. Austin in 1950, when the Geneva Convention on Refugees was in preparation, one can pose two complementary questions about the situation of asylum sixty years after its ratification: What is the truth of asylum? And how are the accounts of asylum seekers recognized to be true? The answer to the first interrogation is discussed from the foundational moments of asylum to the contemporary transformation of the global condition of refugees. The response to the second question relies on an understanding of asylum-granting decisions by magistrates in terms of the three major theories of truth. The tension induced by the contradiction between the spirit of the Geneva Convention and the decrease in the rate of recognition of refugees is resolved by a paradoxical compromise: the more restrictive individual decisions are, the more consideration is demonstrated toward conventional principles.
Didier Fassin; The Precarious Truth of Asylum. Public Culture 1 January 2013; 25 (1 (69)): 39–63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-1890459
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