Co-construction and recontextualisation of asylum narratives

In this study, we examine narratives the way they are constructed in the interpreter-mediated situation of asylum interviews and the way they are later recontextualized in written form in the Migration Agency’s legal documents. We follow 10–15 adult asylum seekers throughout the asylum seeking process and collect data, in form of audio and video recordings, from the investigation interviews in which they participate. We also collect the decision documents that accompany the interviews and we conduct research interviews with all the actors involved in the process.

The applicants in this study come to Sweden from Russian speaking countries. The research focus lies on the co-construction of narratives by the applicant, the case officer, the translator, and the legal advisor and on the recontextualisation of the narrative from oral to written form. We are additionally interested in understanding how the applicants are positioned in the interviews and the accompanying documents and how their identities are thus constructed in this process. Finally, we look for all the involved actors’ attitudes regarding the asylum interview and the generated documentation.

The co-construction of narratives is analytically approached through the lens of interactionism, narrative identity and positioning. A special emphasis is given on the role of the interpreter as a mediator in the interaction. We also use the concept of discourses as representations of social actions in order to examine the legal documents produced after the interview and to understand what happens in the process of recontextualisation from oral interaction to written text. Finally, we analyse our research interviews with the help of activity theory as a heuristic model and we look for the involved actors’ goals and mediated actions and how these influence the result of the interview.

The aim of this project is to deepen our understanding of the asylum interview and, ultimately, to contribute to an improved and fairer asylum process

Zoe Nikolaidou - Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor
School of Culture and Education

Cecilia Wadensjö, professor i tolkning och översättning, Tolk- och
översättarinstitutet, Institutionen för svenska och flerspråkighet vid
Stockholms universitet

Forskningsområde / geografiskt område

Institutionen för kultur och lärande Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper Svenska Samhällsvetenskap Språk Östersjö Östeuropa


2017 — 2020


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