This anthropological dissertation investigates how state power mobilizes different bodies, those of immigration officials and asylum lawyers, in order to transform other bodies, those of asylum applicants, into official documents that get to ground ‘objective’ decisions over suffering, ‘deservingness’ and in- or exclusion. Based on an extensive ethnography, which was conducted between 2014 and 2017, the dissertation takes a reader along into a routinized and contingent time-pressured asylum application process. Within this process, conceptualized as an itinerary, different professionals engage with applicants in order to gather and compose ‘intelligible’ and thus evaluable accounts of refugeeness. This research reveals the ways in which a shape-shifting and caring suspicion pervades the itinerary’s face-to-face encounters and its decision-making practices.

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Keywords Asiel procedures, etnografie, compassie, wantrouwen, affect, de staat
Promotor W. Schinkel (Willem) , J.L. Bier (Jess) , O.G.A. Verkaaik (Oskar)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
Sponsor This research project, under the name ‘Images of belonging in the Dutch asylum procedure', is funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (the NWO) under grant number 406–12–024.
ISBN 978-94-028-1608-2
Persistent URL
Hertoghs, M.A. (2019, September 20). Intensities of the State : An ethnography of intimacy and suspicion in Dutch asylum procedures. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from