Liminality and the asylum process in Switzerland

Author(s) : Marina Gold

Source :


« The process of turning asylum seekers into refugees involves a complex management and bureaucratic machinery that often creates prolonged periods of uncertainty (social, legal and economic) as people are reclassified and reconfigured. Turner’s category of liminality helps to explore the process of determining economic migrants from refugees as a rite of passage in which people are indefinitely trapped ‘betwixt and between’. In the current reaction against immigration, the liminal period indefinitely inhabited by asylum seekers no longer serves the purpose of passage from one status to another and ultimately, incorporation into the social structure. Instead, it acts as a barrier or filter which insulates the social body at a time of intense movement and mobility. Therefore, the liminal period is no longer a formative one with the potential for the reproduction of social structures, but rather a space/time of annihilation and negation of sociality. This article examines the multiple forms of liminality that asylum seekers in Switzerland experience during the process of asylum request. »


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