How does a ‘silenced’ place sound?: Resonances of contested relations in a reception centre of asylum seekers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper attempts to depict the sonic aspect of the everyday life of asylum seekers sheltering in reception centres. The discussion is structured around narratives of soundscapes pertaining their everyday experiences there. The aim is to provide with insights into the contested relations that defy and blur the boundaries that outline as solid entities notions such as ‘home’, ‘host’, ‘asylum seekers’, each of which expected to present specific features, and understood to occupy a distinct space.
In a world that nation-state sovereignty remains the ‘primary political category’ (Nyers 2006: ix), citizenship is the primary status someone can have, marking their legitimate political and spatial belonging. Within a ‘national order of things’ (Malkki 1995), there is no legitimate way to exist as a human being without legal and political status (Khosravi 2010: 122). Under this paradigm that contributes to refugees’ modes of (in)visibility and (in)audibility (see Cabot 2016), reception centres are reasonably imagined and represented as ‘silenced’, in accordance with their residents being ‘voiceless’.
This paper, focusing on soundscapes of everyday life, follows LaBelle’s line of thought on sound as ‘relational’, ‘social’, and ‘spatial’ (2006), entailing the capacity to establish territories that exceed spatial settings (2010). Thus, it shows how sound and music become sites of experiencing estrangement and reinforcing senses of self and/within community (real or imagined), that
counterpoint the fragmented trajectories that underpin lives of asylum seekers in reception centres. In doing so, it shows that representations of ‘silenced’ and 'voiceless' ultimately obscure antagonistic relations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 07 Jan 2022
EventBFE / RMA Research Students' Conference - University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 06 Jan 202208 Jan 2022


ConferenceBFE / RMA Research Students' Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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  • asylum seekers
  • reception centre
  • soundscape
  • silence
  • territory


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