Seitz, ‘Limbo Life in Canada’s Waiting Room’, 2017
David K. Seitz, ‘Limbo Life in Canada’s Waiting Room: Asylum-Seeker as Queer Subject’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35(3), 438-456, 2017
This paper puts queer theory’s ‘‘subjectless critique’’ of identity to work in challenging the state’s biopolitical use of essential, authentic identities in asylum law and practice. It not only builds upon, but also departs from existing scholarship that calls on state actors to recognize a wider range of forms of gender and sexual diversity that make people vulnerable to persecution. By contrast, I investigate how the practices of ‘‘destination’’ countries produce asylums-seekers as dispossessed, deportable, precarious queers, regardless of sexual identity or practice. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with asylum-seekers and their supporters in Toronto, Canada, I highlight the waiting room as one type of material and metaphorical space that produces asylum-seekers as liminal queer subjects. I argue that approaching queerness as precarity, rather than lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identity or even sexual and gender diversity, provides alternative and expansive ethical horizons for queer and migration politics.
Keywords: Queer, refugee, asylum, subjectless critique, waiting room, waiting