Out of Time: The Temporal Uncertainties of Refused Asylum Seekers and Immigration Detainees

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164 Citations (Scopus)


Despite long-standing recognition that variations exist between people's experiences of time, and that time is central to the framing of social life and bureaucratic systems, migration scholars have tended to neglect the temporal dimension in their exploration of mobility. This continues to be the case today despite it being over a decade since Saulo Cwerner, in this journal, called for migration researchers to give greater attention to time. This article seeks to reinvigorate the debate, drawing on ethnographic research with refused asylum seekers and immigration detainees in the UK to question how an appreciation of time provides insights into understandings of mobility and deportability. It argues that deportable migrants suffer from the instability and precarity created by living with a dual uncertainty of time, one that simultaneously threatens imminent and absent change. The article distinguishes between four experiential temporalities (sticky, suspended, frenzied and ruptured), and considers how the re-appropriation of time might aid individual resilience
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1991-2009
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2014


  • Immigration Detention
  • Asylum
  • Uncertainty
  • Time
  • Temporal


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