The welfare policing of asylum seekers as necropolitics

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In this chapter Leanne Weber draws on findings from interviews with NGOs and service providers in Victoria, Australia, to discuss the ways in which the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS), that provides financial support for asylum seekers, operates as a system of ʼnecropolitics’. This term was popularised by postcolonial theorist Achille Mbembe to denote the power to determine, not only who will live and who will die, but also which population groups will be exposed to enduring conditions of extreme deprivation and terror. Weber argues that the SRSS is part of a ‘structurally embedded border’ in Australia that operates through selective denial of access to goods and services to non-citizens, and the incorporation of service providing agencies into migration policing networks. Ostensibly set up to support certain categories of asylum seekers released into the community from mandatory detention, the system provides minimal financial assistance while subjecting welfare recipients to intensive surveillance. Weber concludes that the SRSS serves the instrumental goal of engineering ‘voluntary departures’ by blocking access to the essential requirements for life, thereby creating ongoing conditions of suffering and fear that align well with Mbembe’s searing account of necropolitical governance in colonised societies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegulating Refugee Protection through Social Welfare
Subtitle of host publicationLaw, Policy and Praxis
EditorsPeter Billings
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781000603620
ISBN (Print)9780367480417
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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