Asylum Seeker Materiality and Identity-Building: Shapers of Socio-legal Incarceration

  • Francesco Vecchio
Part of the Transnational Crime, Crime Control and Security book series (TCCCS)


This chapter draws on participatory observation conducted as an outsider with two groups of about ten male asylum seekers each to explain why many asylum seekers in Hong Kong choose to live in spaces that can be defined as ‘slums’. An argument is made that asylum seekers’ choice of dwelling is a consequence of their socio-legal incarceration or confinement within a condition akin to detention, which limits and structures their identity and agency. Given structural factors that produce asylum seeker estrangement and marginalization, identity-based claims are made upon which asylum seekers act to ensure their survival. In so doing, however, they are responsible for shaping the exclusionary context that fashions their struggle to survive and gain a measure of control over their lives. A process of entrapment is thereby evinced, one in which asylum seekers are ensnared for political and economic reasons.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Vecchio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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