Refugees, Politics and Identity: The Aesthetics of Political Resistance

The paper analyzes political resistance as an aesthetic phenomenon by taking as an example a protest in which two asylum seekers stabbed themselves in front of the Finnish Parliament House in the autumn 2017. An aesthetic reading of refugee activism allows critical insights into paradoxes of politics, identity and rights in the western juridico-political context. First, by framing the analysis on Foucault’s and Agamben’s theorizations of biopolitics, the paper interprets how refugee protests give visibility to the violence and inhumanity in the systematized practices of inscribing people with non-citizen identity. Then, by employing Rancière’s ideas of political aesthetics, the paper reads refugee resistance further as empowering democratic politics where refugee identity itself is used as a method for rejecting this oppressive identity.