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Rethinking commonality in refugee status determination in Europe: Legal geographies of asylum appeals

Author(s): Jessica Hambly, Et al.

The Common European Asylum System aims to establish common standards for refugee status determination among EU Member States. Combining insights from legal and political geography we bring the depth and scale of this challenge into sharp relief. Drawing on interviews and a detailed ethnography of asylum adjudication involving over 850 in-person asylum appeal observations, we point towards practical differences in the spatio-temporality, materiality and logistics of asylum appeal processes as they are operationalised in seven European countries. Our analysis achieves three things. Firstly, we identify a key zone of differences at the level of concrete, everyday implementation that has largely escaped academic attention, which allows us to critically assess the notion of harmonisation of asylum policies in new ways. Secondly, drawing on legal- and political-geographical concepts, we offer a way to conceptualise this zone by paying attention to the spatio-temporality, materiality and logistics it involves. Thirdly, we offer critical legal logistics as a new direction for scholarship in legal geography and beyond that promises to prise open the previously obscured mechanics of contemporary legal systems.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy

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