By the same authors

Precarious Lives: Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ Resistance within Unfree Labouring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Full text download(s)




Publication details

JournalACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies
DatePublished - 2015
Issue number2
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)470-478
Original languageEnglish


This paper is concerned with the interplay between vulnerability, resistance and agency for forced migrants. Such concepts are yoked together as soon as the vulnerability inherent in the life-worlds of many migrants is seen to align not solely with victimhood, but also potentially to act as a springboard for agentic resistance, mobilisation and activism. As such, this paper is oriented towards a critical theoretical, and empirically insightful, engagement with the concept of resistance. Most particularly, we ponder the possibilities for resistance in situations of subjugated unfreedom within realms of forced labour. The backdrop for this paper is a broader research project that aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of severe labour exploitation and unfree labour among asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK (see The lives of many refugees and asylum seekers are widely recognised as characterised by poverty, social exclusion and destitution (Crawley 2001; Phillips 2006), yet there is little research documenting their experiences of exploitation and unfree labour and the reasons why they may be engaged in it. It was such a research gap that spurred our broader project, together with concern that government policy is potentially influential in propelling asylum seekers and refugees into severely exploitative working conditions including unfree elements (see fuller discussion in Lewis et al 2014a). This paper homes in on the particular issue of whether, and how, resistance may manifest for asylum seekers and refugees in landscapes of extreme labour precarity.

Bibliographical note

This content is made available by the publisher under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivative Licence. This means that a user may copy, distribute and display the resource providing that they give credit, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter, transform, or build upon the image. Users must adhere to the terms of the licence.

    Research areas

  • Refugees, Asylum seekers, Labour

Discover related content

Find related publications, people, projects, datasets and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations