Life after asylum: investigating the precarious geographies of home with refugees leaving direct provision in Cork, Ireland

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Howlett-Southgate, Rosie
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University College Cork
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Ireland’s asylum system of Direct Provision has received significant critique by researchers who have condemned the policy as restrictive, creating multiple exclusions for asylum seekers whilst exacerbating their economic, social and personal vulnerabilities both during asylum and afterward. More broadly, research with refugees focuses on displacement, journeys to refuge, protection and experiences of seeking asylum yet rarely do academic inquiries focus specifically on the ‘move-on’ period after asylum when international protection has been granted. Thus, the main aim of this work is to respond to this knowledge gap and investigate the lived experience of exiting Direct Provision, of negotiating the precarious transition from asylum seeking to independent life in the Irish community. Based on a mixed method, qualitative approach comprising of an innovative policy analysis and a series of interviews, I employ the geographies of home as a connective thematic tissue to discuss issues of housing, belonging and home-making post asylum. Throughout the thesis I plot four sub-aims which are; to create a feminist asylum policy analysis, to investigate housing trajectories after Direct Provision, to explore a shifting sense of belonging emerging from the transition and finally to capture the relationality of domestic homemaking after this period in limbo. In bringing forward the barriers to independent life and the emotional complexities transpiring after asylum, the thesis demonstrates that although leaving the asylum system was often idealised in the minds of participants, life outside Direct Provision is fraught with difficult negotiations. Thus, there is an urgent need to understand the effects of time spent asylum-seeking, so that policies can develop in ways that take account of both the physical, practical needs and the personal, emotional needs of refugees. Furthermore, I contribute to the field of critical human geography in three ways. Firstly, I deepen the field’s qualitative understandings of refugees’ ‘move on period’ by presenting first-hand, geographically specific data to Cork that is suitable to be brought forward into a policy arena, particularly to inform more ‘bottom-up’ policies evidenced by the ‘on-the-ground’ needs and opinions of refugees in Cork. Secondly, in creating a feminist policy analysis of the asylum system I put forward a new epistemology of ‘analysing’ the business of asylum, which explores the ways time waiting for asylum alters participants home geographies. Thirdly and finally I bring geographies of home into deeper conversation with refugee studies along three axes; housing, belonging and domesticities.
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Refugees , Asylum seekers , Home , Direct provision , Human geography
Howlett-Southgate, R. 2020. Life after asylum: investigating the precarious geographies of home with refugees leaving direct provision in Cork, Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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