Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 65–73

From Exceptional to Liminal Subjects: Reconciling Tensions in the Politics of Tuberculosis and Migration

Symposium: Tuberculosis

DOI: 10.1007/s11673-016-9700-x

Cite this article as:
Horner, J. Bioethical Inquiry (2016) 13: 65. doi:10.1007/s11673-016-9700-x


Controlling the movement of potentially infectious bodies has been central to Australian immigration law. Nowhere is this more evident than in relation to tuberculosis (TB), which is named as a ground for refusal of a visa in the Australian context. In this paper, I critically examine the “will to knowledge” that this gives rise to. Drawing on a critical analysis of texts, including interviews with migrants diagnosed with TB and healthcare professionals engaged in their care (n=19), I argue that this focus on border policing, rather than resettlement and the broader social determinants of health that drive current rates of TB, paradoxically renders migrants diagnosed with TB as liminal subjects in the post-arrival phase. This raises ethical issues about who “matters,” as well as dilemmas about what constitutes adequate care for the “Other,” both of which go to the heart of the political economy of migration.


Tuberculosis Migration Equity Health disparities Social determinants of health Surveillance 

Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law, UNSW Australia, UNSW Law BuildingUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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