Lives on Hold – Intimate Relations and Care in the Lives of Asylum Seekers in Finland

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Lena NARE, University of Helsinki, Finland
This paper draws on the notions of intimate migration (Boehm 2012) and transnational care (Baldassar et al. 2007) to analyse the ways in which intimate relations motivate and direct refugee (im)mobility and asylum seekers’ (im)possibility of providing transnational care for their families in the context of increasingly restrictive border and migration regimes. Existing research on refugee migration has focused on refugees and asylum seekers as recipients of (health) care and overlooked the role of asylum seekers and refugees as providers of transnational care. This paper is based on ethnographic research with Iraqi and Afghani asylum seekers conducted in Finland in the spring of 2017. The data include participant observation and interviews (N=30) with female and male asylum seekers who arrived in Finland in the autumn of 2015 and who still in the spring of 2017 were waiting for the final decision on their asylum application. The research participants were stuck in immobility because they were waiting either for the first decision on their asylum application or the administrative court’s decision on their appeal. The study emphasizes the crucial importance of intimate and family relations in motivating asylum mobility and structuring daily lives of asylum seekers in Finland. It also documents the human suffering and hopelessness caused by an asylum regime that prevents refugees from providing transnational care for their families.


Baldassar, L.; Vellekoop, C and Wilding, R. (2007) Families Caring Across Borders. Migration, Ageing and Transnational Caregiving. Palgrave.

Boehm, D. A. (2012) Intimate Migrations: Gender, Family and Illegality Among Transnational Mexicans. NYU Press.