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Contested statelessness in Sabah, Malaysia: irregularity and the politics of recognition

Allerton, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0002-1463-4157 (2017) Contested statelessness in Sabah, Malaysia: irregularity and the politics of recognition. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 15 (3). pp. 250-268. ISSN 1556-2948

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Identification Number: 10.1080/15562948.2017.1283457


UNHCR’s current #IBelong campaign presents stateless people as uniquely excluded, emphasising the need for legal solutions to their situation. Such approaches to statelessness sidestep both the complexities of lived experience, and the wider politics of state recognition. In response, this article utilises ethnographic data from Sabah, Malaysia, and theorisations of the grey areas between citizenship and statelessness, to argue for the fundamental connection between statelessness and irregularity. Such a connection is central to understanding both the everyday lives of potentially stateless people, and Sabah’s public discourse on statelessness as a mirage obscuring the problems of ‘illegals’ and ‘street children’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JX International law
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2017 11:43
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2024 17:06
Projects: ES/J012262/1
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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