UBC Theses and Dissertations
Strangers by sea : crafting of a "well-grounded" fear Manson, Daniel
It has become commonplace for asylum seekers in Canada to be represented by politicians and popular media as bogus refugees out to abuse the generosity of Canadians. This process has involved the inversion of the notion that the risk faced by asylum seekers warrants state protection. Instead it is the asylum seeker that is presented as a risky border crosser, often provoking renewed state and public interest in fortifying Canadian borders. This thesis will argue that ‘fear’ has played a crucial role in discursively rendering certain asylum seekers as embodiments of risk that warrant transformative and decisive forms of state intervention. Tracing the public debates that ensued following the mass arrival in Canada of 492 Tamil migrants aboard the MV Sun Sea in August, 2010 I will suggest that asylum seekers have become objects of fear that render material anxieties about the supposed permeability of Canadian borders, sovereignty and the meanings of citizenship. Specifically, I will locate these anxieties in the discursive construction of these asylum seekers as “terrorists,” “smugglers,” and otherwise “bogus refugees” at the intersection between public media and state policy. By highlighting the ways these labels become discursively attached to the bodies of a particular group of migrants I seek to displace the idea that securitization is a coherent product of state practices. Rather I argue that the public debates over what the bodies of these migrants mean signifies that securitization is deeply contingent on how Canadian citizens are affected by the arrival of the Sun Sea.
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