In examining Australian policy towards boat-arriving refugees, state power reverberates through all dealings with them. Detention is only one expression of state power under a regime of policy which creates precarious noncitizens. Since 2012, over 36,000 asylum-seeking people live in a state of confinement in Australian communities. While about nine per cent are in offshore and onshore detention, the majority live in Australian communities, their confined conditions and ongoing temporary status invisible to most Australians.  Playing on the title of Scott's 1998 book, “Seeing Like a State”, Australian state "behaviour" is first examined through discursive analysis of legislation and policy directed at boat-arriving, asylum-seeking people living in the community. Then with Scott as a starting framework, the paper explores how concepts of confinement might be used to frame lived experiences of boat-arriving asylum-seeking people living on temporary visas in Australia. Normally focussed on those in regimes of detention, how can the concept of confinement be used for those living as asylum-seekers in the community? Based on research at an unrepresented asylum-seeker form-filling clinic in Brisbane, what specific requirements and processes govern and confine asylum-seekers as they live within Australian communities, and how do they navigate these practices of confinement? 

About the Presenter

Hanne is a PhD candidate in Anthropology in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland.


About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


Level 4, Michie Building #09, St Lucia Campus
Seminar Room #443