De Facto Detention: Examining the impact living in a liminal ‘non-place’ has on female asylum seekers in Ireland’s system of Direct Provision
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Years of increasing asylum claims in Western democratic states has been followed by an extraordinary rise in detention as a means to ‘manage’ migrant populations. In doing so these states have created ‘non-places’, which are physical manifestations of the insecurity migrants contained within them experience. The creation of these architectures of exclusion has been widely criticised by human rights groups, and as a result the state’s ability to institutionalise them often pivots on their ability to frame these policies as temporary, a short-term solution to deal with a crisis. Ireland’s system of ‘Direct Provision’, a form of ‘de facto’ detention, is an excellent example of this strategy as it too was introduced as a policy to temporarily control the influx of asylum seekers. However, this system is now the new normal, as new centres have continued to open since it was first established twenty years ago. This research will contribute to the growing body of literature on the impact of detention, homing in on the experiences of female asylum seekers in ‘Direct Provision’ to do so. I will investigate the impact of living in liminality, which is the chronic sense of insecurity asylum seekers face. A review of relevant literature identified certain sites of consequence in which this liminality was most palpable, these sites related to asylum seekers’ health, ability to parent, and their employment opportunities. With consideration for these key sites, in-depth qualitative interviews of current female residents in ‘Direct Provision’ were conducted to examine the impact of living in a liminal ‘non-place’. This research provides an insight into the impact of liminality, but also interprets some of the ways residents actively resist the imposition of liminality by building resilience from within the system and integrating with the local community.