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Chair: Dr Amanda Chisholm, Senior Lecturer in Security Studies / Researcher in Gender and Security

Speaker: Dr Lucrezia Canzutti, Research Associate, Department of War Studies

Dr Lucrezia Canzutti will use the concept of ‘invisible labour’ to examine the work that asylum seekers perform in order to provide evidence that substantiates their asylum claims. The intersection between asylum and labour has typically been analysed in relation to unfree labour, exploitation, destitution and precarity, on the one hand – and the varying restrictions on asylum seekers’ access to the labour market on the other. However, less attention has been paid to the injunctions to work that are inherent within the process of seeking asylum.

In addition to this, while paperwork has long been a characteristic of the modern state, it has not been at the centre of debates concerning asylum-seeking and the difficulties that it entails. To address these limitations, the seminar proposes to extend the existing literature on asylum and labour by drawing attention to the work that asylum seekers perform in collecting, assembling, and ordering different forms of analogue and digital data to put together a ‘credible’ asylum application. Through this approach, Canzutti argues that the very condition of seeking asylum entails extensive and continual invisible work that requires significant resources – including money, effort, and time.

Attending to these forms of invisible work is crucial to understanding the lived experiences of asylum seeking and the challenges that permeate it beyond the migratory journey. It also counters problematic depictions of asylum seekers as passive subjects who are ‘just waiting’ for a decision to be made. Finally, rendering the collection and assemblage of data as ‘invisible work’ rather than just ‘doings’ has political implications for how we understand the resources, responsibilities and resistance to the making of precarious subjects.    

Lu Canzutti


Lucrezia is a Research Associate at the Department of War Studies, King's College London. She holds a PhD in Politics from the University of York. Her past research focused on migration to and within the Global South, citizenship studies, and il/liberalism. Currently, Lucrezia is a post-doc on the project Security Flows funded by the ERC and led by Professor Claudia Aradau.

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Lucrezia Canzutti

Research Associate