What is the experience of navigating a new life in Ireland for international protection applicants and refugees and what role does education play?
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This research is political in nature. It analyses the system of reception for international protection applicants and refugees in Ireland, investigates the nature of life within Direct Provision and explores the ways in which people attempt to create new lives for themselves. It also examines the opportunities and spaces which enable people to make an entry into a host society often through engagement with education. The study attempts to theorise the role of the State in the marginalisation of international protection applicants Lynch reminds us that research is a political tool, ‘be it by default, by design, or by recognition’ (Lynch 2000:73) and this thesis attempts to uncover the intersection of people’s daily lives with international protection policy andpractice. State responses to this group can be located within successive responses to immigration aimed at defending State sovereignty, controlling borders and preventing participation in Irish society by some migrants. In order to understand this phenomenon, this study draws upon the ideas of Giorgio Agamben and Hannah Arendt and their theories of power, governance and biopolitics to examine and interpret the Direct Provision system. This study also considers experiences of accessing and engaging with further and higher education which are contextualised by experiences of flight from a home country and arrival elsewhere. Education is an important factor in resettlement, adaptation ad acculturation for newly-arrived families and individuals. This is a qualitative research project which employs an emancipatory approach, prioritising the voice of the person who is seeking refuge and engaging in a phenomenological analysis of their stories. These stories communicate an experience of social exclusion and inequality. However, the purpose of the study is to also contest narratives of helpless and passive victims, and in their place, to explore resilience and resistance as participants cope with their experiences of seeking international protection and try to regain control over their futures. The findings reveal Direct Provision is a profoundly punitive system but also demonstrate the resolute nature of its residents and their determination to bring about change. Their personal narratives show that societal norms, as well as dominant political and media discourses are regularly challenged.
KeywordsInternational protection applicants