De Vries, L.A.
Politics of (in)visibility: Governance-resistance and the constitution of refugee subjectivities in Malaysia
(2016) Review of International Studies, 42 (5), pp. 876-894.
This article explores the relationality of governance and resistance in the context of the constitution of refugee subjectivities in Malaysia. Whilst recognising their precarity, the article moves away from conceiving of refugees merely as victims subjected to violence and control, and to contribute to an emerging body of literature on migrant resistance. Its contribution lies in examining practices of resistance, and the specific context in which they emerge, without conceptualising power-resistance as a binary, and without conceiving of refugees as preconstituted subjects. Rather, drawing on the thought of Michel Foucault, the article examines how refugee subjectivities come into being through a play of governance-resistance, of practices and strategies that may be simultaneously affirmative, subversive, exclusionary, and oppressive. The relationality and mobility of this play is illustrated through an examination of practices surrounding UNHCR identity cards, community organisations, and education. Secondly, governance-resistance is conceptualised as a play of visibility and invisibility, understood both visually and in terms of knowledge production. What I refer to as the politics of (in)visibility indicates that refugee subjectivities are both constituted and become other than ‘the refugee’ through a continuous play of coming into being, becoming governable, claiming a presence, blending in and remaining invisible. © British International Studies Association 2016.
(In)visibility; Governance; Politics; Refugees; Resistance; Subjectivity