Officially Categorized Queers

by Joanna Mellquist

Institution: Södertörns Högskola
Year: 2016
Keywords: Queer migration; asylum; LGBTQ; categorization; ANT; looping effect; intersectionality; Social Sciences; Sociology; Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology); Samhällsvetenskap; Sociologi; Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi); Social and Behavioural Science, Law; samhälle/juridik; Sociologi; Sociologi
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2121541
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-30648


This thesis investigates the experiences and strategies of queer migrants seeking asylum in Sweden due to sexuality and/or gender identity. By conducting ethnographic fieldwork and biographical interviews within the RFSL Newcomers support network, the thesis analyses how queer migrants navigate the Swedish asylum apparatus. Building on recent research in queer migration studies, it explores how power relations related to class, gender and race affect queer migrants’ strategies. Applying Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network theory, the thesis furthermore analyses the queer migrants in an actor network together with RFSL Newcomers and the asylum apparatus as independent actors. This thesis additionally aims to contribute to the sociological debate on categorization and construction of identity using Ian Hacking’s concept of the looping effect. Lack of social capital, of not having the right networks, gendered possibilities of visibility and speaking about sexuality can establish obstacles for queer migrants in the credibility assessment and the success of the asylum claim. The asymmetric power relation forces queer migrants into conflicting strategies. Forced visibility and hyper hiding are strategies that are specifically produced in relation to the asylum apparatus creating gendered risk and precarious living conditions. This thesis concludes that queer migrants and the RFSL Newcomers network, in their asylum activism both challenge the asylum apparatus and Western narratives of LGBTQ identity. Nevertheless, RFSL and the queer migrants become complicit in the production of official essentialistic LGBTQ identities when navigating the asylum apparatus. By exploring the Swedish context of LGBTQ asylum and categorization of LGBTQ identity in the asylum process, this thesis contributes to the somewhat undertheorized field of queer migration in Swedish academia.