Lawrance explores asylum-seeking as an emergent archival form to highlight how the strategies shaping asylum claiming conceal a potentially rich archive of gender-based violence. Asylum seekers today face ever greater obstacles entering western migration fortresses. Protection from the 1951 Refugee Convention seems, at minimal, constricted. Refugees engage new frameworks of persecution to access protection, but they face heavy scrutiny for credibility. The Nigerian claims examined here illustrate how gender-based violence asylum claimants mimetically emphasize Boko Haram as a vehicle for resistance to endemic bureaucratic suspicion, doubt, and disbelief. By reshaping personal testimonies of gender-based violence to foreground persecution by Boko Haram, a discrete group of Nigerian asylum seekers actuate a mimetic strategy engaging powerful—and problematic—tropes about Africa and Africans. Creative strategies anchor complex asylum narratives and render them exotically familiar to adjudicators.
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October 1, 2016
Benjamin N. Lawrance; Boko Haram, Refugee Mimesis, and the Archive of Contemporary Gender-Based Violence. Radical History Review 1 October 2016; 2016 (126): 159–170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-3594505
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