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Title: Questioning the culture of court : resistant narratives, imagined possibilities and the regulation of sexuality in UK asylum law
Author: Johnson, Toni A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2011
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At the heart of this thesis lies a broad concern with the relationship between law, subjectivity and the possibility of resistance. I consider the way that law is deployed as a mechanism of determination and classification on the one hand, and as a mode of resistance and contestation to such classification on the other. Drawing from Drucilla Cornell's concept of the 'imaginary domain' and Michel de Certeau's work on 'micro-resistance' I explore this paradoxical positioning of law as a site of both subjectification and resistance. Alongside Cornell and de Certeau I rely on critical narrative as a key mode of agency and subjecthood that transgresses normativity in terms of its form and function. Although there has been much important work produced on narrative, predominantly through Critical Race Theory and legal consciousness literature, my work emphasizes the importance of narrative as a mode of agency, and as a method for social change within specified legal environments such as the courtroom and the legal academy. The specific focus of the thesis rests on the production of testimony by lesbian and gay refugees seeking asylum in the UK as members of a particular social group. The thesis asks whether it is possible for asylum seekers to produce resistant narratives and transgressive identities in a legal environment, and whether in so doing, they are able to challenge the formalism and formulism of the court. I use formalism to denote the protocol of court, inclusive of the establishment of legal relations between parties, and formulism to denote the way in which testimony is provided in order to address the grounds of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. I argue that whilst the spaces for transgression and resistance in court are limited, lesbian and gay asylum seekers nonetheless challenge legal power structures in important and persistent ways. Although the court is not always willing or able to hear or respond to such transgression, resistances, nonetheless, play an important role in maintaining the agency of asylum seekers before the court.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available