IMER Bergen

Fractured protection and bodily exhaustion: navigating the paradigm shift in Danish asylum policy

In this seminar, Sarah-Louise Japhetson Mortensen will present findings from her 12 months ethnographic fieldwork among Syrian refugees in Denmark.

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Sarah-Louise Japhetson Mortensen

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Since 2015, a political turn towards temporary protection and return of refugees to their country of origin has taken hold in Denmark. Shorter durations of residence permits and an emphasis on the temporary nature of refugees’ stay have highlighted the deportability of all refugees residing in Denmark. 

Due to security assessments of Damascus (2019) and Rural Damascus (2021), Syrian refugees who holds subsidiarity protection statuses have been a particular target group for the Danish Immigration Service's re-examinations of protection needs.

Mortensen's research highlights how the temporality of protection over time has imprinted itself on Syrian refugees' bodies and minds – manifested as nightmares, stress, depression, tremor, anxiety and sleeplessness – which she identifies as bodily and mental exhaustion.

Mortensen draws on the concept “Politics of exhaustion” (Welander & Ansems De Vries 2016, 2021) to discuss how exhaustion can be understood as an effect of technologies of governance and as lived experiences and resistance during her interlocutors’ daily navigations between protection needs.

Join us at  Bergen Global or follow the seminar through this zoom link.

Sarah-Louise Japhetson Mortensen
Sarah-Louise Japhetson Mortensen

Sarah-Louise Japhetson Mortensen is a visiting PhD scholar at the Center for Women and Gender Studies (SKOK) at UiB. She is affiliated with the department of anthropology at Aarhus University in Denmark. Her PhD project is a part of the international and interdisciplinary research project “Temporary protection as a durable solution? The 'return turn' in asylum policies in Europe” (TEMPRO).