African Asylum at a Crossroads
Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights

Edited by Iris Berger, Tricia Redeker Hepner, Benjamin N. Lawrance, Joanna T. Tague, and Meredith Terretta
Foreword by Penelope Andrews
Afterword by Fallou Ngom

“This is a first-rate collection of original essays focused on asylum jurisprudence involving African refugees…. These essays are provocative, well documented, and eloquent. The authors examine a subject that has been largely overlooked: the extraordinarily significant role of experts in legal processes…. The impressive contributors are anthropologists, historians, and legal scholars who offer provocative remarks about cases including many in which they served as expert witnesses.”

Alison Dundes Renteln, professor of political science and anthropology at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and Law, University of Southern California

African Asylum at a Crossroads: Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights examines the emerging trend of requests for expert opinions in asylum hearings or refugee status determinations. This is the first book to explore the role of court-based expertise in relation to African asylum cases and the first to establish a rigorous analytical framework for interpreting the effects of this new reliance on expert testimony.

Over the past two decades, courts in Western countries and beyond have begun demanding expert reports tailored to the experience of the individual claimant. As courts increasingly draw upon such testimony in their deliberations, expertise in matters of asylum and refugee status is emerging as an academic area with its own standards, protocols, and guidelines. This deeply thoughtful book explores these developments and their effects on both asylum seekers and the experts whose influence may determine their fate.

Contributors: Iris Berger, Carol Bohmer, John Campbell, Katherine Luongo, E. Ann McDougall, Karen Musalo, Tricia Redeker Hepner, Amy Shuman, Joanna T. Tague, Meredith Terretta, and Charlotte Walker-Said.

Iris Berger, is Vincent O’Leary Professor of History at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of South Africa in World History.

Tricia Redeker Hepner is associate professor of anthropology and director of the Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights Program at the University of Tennessee. She is the author of Soldiers, Martyrs, Traitors, and Exiles: Political Conflict in Eritrea and the Diaspora.

Benjamin N. Lawrance is a professor of African history at the University of Arizona and author of Amistad’s Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling.

Joanna T. Tague is assistant professor of African history at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Meredith Terretta is an associate professor of history at the University of Ottawa and the author of Petitioning for Our Rights, Fighting for Our Nation: The History of the Democratic Union of Cameroonian Women, 1949–1960.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword.
    Penelope Andrews
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Law, Expertise, and Protean Ideas about African Migrants
    Benjamin N. Lawrance, Iris Berger, Tricia Redeker Hepner, Joanna T. Tague, and Meredith Terretta
  • 1. Before Asylum and the Expert Witness
    Mozambican Refugee Settlement and Rural Development in Southern Tanzania, 1964–75
    Joanna T. Tague
  • 2. Fraudulent Asylum Seeking as Transnational Mobilization
    The Case of Cameroon
    Meredith Terretta
  • 3. The Evolving Refugee Definition
    How Shifting Elements of Eligibility Affect the Nature and Focus of Expert Testimony in Asylum Proceedings
    Karen Musalo
  • 4. Expert Evidence in British Asylum Courts
    The Judicial Assessment of Evidence on Ethnic Discrimination and Statelessness in Ethiopia
    John Campbell
  • 5. “The Immigration People Know the Stories. There’s One for Each Country”
    The Case of Mauritania
    E . Ann McDougall
  • 6. Cultural Silences as an Excuse for Injustice
    The Problems of Documentary Proof
    Carol Bohmer and Amy Shuman
  • 7. Between Advocacy and Deception
    Crafting an African Asylum Narrative
    Iris Berger
  • 8. Allegations, Evidence, and Evaluation
    Asylum Seeking in a World of Witchcraft
    Katherine Luongo
  • 9. Sexual Minorities among African Asylum Claimants
    Human Rights Regimes, Bureaucratic Knowledge, and the Era of Sexual Rights Diplomacy
    Charlotte Walker-Said
  • 10. The “Asylum-Advocacy Nexus” in Anthropological Perspective
    Agency, Activism, and the Construction of Eritrean Political Identities
    Tricia Redeker Hepner
  • Afterword
    Fallou Ngom
  • About the Authors
  • Index

Order a print copy

Hardcover · $36 · Add to Cart

Retail price: $45.00 · Save 20% ($36)

Find at a local bookstore


Download an electronic copy

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Downloads & Links


Related Subjects

Human Rights · Law · African Studies



Retail price: $45.00, S.
Release date: May 2015
280 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World


Release date: May 2015
≅ 280 pages
Rights: World