Suspended Lives explores the experiences of asylum seekers in the midwestern United States in vivid detail. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork among Cameroonian and other African asylum seekers, Bridget M. Haas traces the emotional and social effects of being embedded in the US asylum regime. Appealing to the United States for protection, asylum seekers are cast into a complex and protracted bureaucratic system that increasingly treats them as suspect. Haas shows how the US asylum system both serves as a potential refuge from past violence and creates new forms of suffering. She takes readers into the intimate spaces of asylum seekers’ homes and communities, in addition to legal and bureaucratic settings that are often inaccessible to the public. Poignantly foregrounding the lives and voices of asylum seekers, Suspended Lives exposes the asylum system as a site of multiple, yet often hidden and normalized, forms of violence. Haas also illuminates how asylum seekers respond to these harms to actively endure the asylum process.
Suspended Lives Navigating Everyday Violence in the US Asylum System
About the Book
Reviews"Suspended Lives discusses the many forms of violence that have become endemic to the US political asylum system. Through compelling accounts of individual asylum seekers, Bridget Haas portrays the deeply human dimension of the asylum system. This innovative, insightful book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in refugees, asylum, immigration, or trauma."⏤Amy Shuman, coauthor of Political Asylum Deceptions: The Culture of Suspicion
"Suspended Lives contains important theoretical interventions as well as novel ethnographic material about an immigrant population that has not been extensively studied. Empathetic and accessibly written, this is an important contribution to understanding the daily lives and struggles of refugees navigating the complex—perhaps complexly broken—US asylum system."⏤Beatriz Reyes-Foster, author of Psychiatric Encounters: Madness and Modernity in Yucatan, Mexico
"This groundbreaking book represents a theoretically and conceptually sophisticated contribution to ethnographic research in asylum seeking. Suspended Lives offers compelling insights into the interpenetration of everyday experiences with structural conditions and relations of power. It is likely to inform scholarship in the field for decades to come."⏤Charles Watters, author of Refugee Children: Towards the Next Horizon