CFA: Epistemic Injustice in Asylum Policy and Practice

Submission deadline: May 17, 2021

Conference date(s):
September 7, 2021 - September 10, 2021

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This event is online

Conference Venue:

Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester
Manchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Epistemic Injustice in Asylum Policy and Practice

MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, September 7-10, 2021 (online)

Convenors: Megan Blomfield (University of Sheffield), Sanjana Govindarajan (University of Groningen), Kerri Woods (University of Leeds)

This workshop will examine forms of epistemic injustice in state asylum policy and practice.

Existing policies for the granting of international protection render the processing of asylum claims one of the most important, challenging, and problematic spheres of decision-making in modern states. The costs and benefits at stake in asylum decisions endow them with grave moral significance: such decisions may result in an individual being offered valuable rights of protection, residence, support and (perhaps) eventual citizenship; or instead returned to risk of death, deprivation, or persecution. These are also decisions in which the potential for injustice looms large. If the receiving state has a goal of limiting inward migration in general, or grants of asylum in particular, then those claiming asylum are confronted by a problem of conflicting aims in a context of severe inequality of power. Asylum decisions also tend to have a fundamental epistemic component, with judgments of the applicant’s credibility playing a vital role. Perceived ‘lack of credibility’ is a common reason for asylum claims to be rejected in the UK and elsewhere; and there is evidence to suggest that such judgments are often seriously flawed.

Epistemic injustice is a growing field of research, attracting considerable attention in applied philosophy in recent years. However, there is yet to be much work applying insights from this field to the study of refugee and asylum issues, which is itself a burgeoning ground of academic study as well as an important policy area. This workshop will address this gap, inviting contributions that apply insights from the field of epistemic injustice to illuminate problematic aspects of asylum policy and practice and the specific harms and injustices faced by asylum claimants. The intention is that these papers will also enlarge the field of epistemic injustice by examining the experiences of a group of people routinely affected by such injustice, that have hitherto been neglected by philosophers working in this field; showing that existing philosophical frameworks may have to be expanded or adjusted in order to adequately account for the forms of epistemic injustice experienced by those claiming asylum.

Questions that papers may address include:

  • What forms of epistemic injustice do state asylum policies and practices perpetrate, enable, or realise?
  • How might asylum regimes be understood as epistemically unjust institutions?
  • Does testimony concerning trauma pose distinctive challenges to the pursuit of epistemic justice?
  • How do mechanisms of epistemic injustice impact specific groups in need of international protection, such as LGBTQ asylum claimants?
  • Are existing concepts of epistemic injustice adequate for capturing the epistemic wrongs of asylum policies and practices?

If you would like to present a paper at this workshop, please send an abstract of 300-500 words to [email protected], by 6pm UK time on Monday the 17th of May. We warmly welcome papers from those with any form of experience or expertise regarding the workshop topic. Please include your name and any affiliation. We will endeavour to inform you whether your paper has been accepted by the end of May.

Papers will be pre-circulated and everyone attending the workshop will be asked to read the whole set of papers in advance (anticipated to be approx. 8-12 papers). The deadline to submit full versions of the conference papers (maximum 10,000 words) will be August 20th.

Please note that all attendees will be expected to register (and pay a registration fee). This year’s MANCEPT fees are:

  • Academics:  £45
  • Graduate students, retirees, and unaffiliated attendees: £20
  • Non-speaker/non-presenting attendees: £15

MANCEPT offer a small number of fee waiver bursaries. The deadline for bursary applications (available to current graduate students only) will be the 15th June, and successful applicants will be informed by the 22nd June. Details here:

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: [email protected]

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