Protecting national sovereignty: the 'Australian model' and the exclusion of asylum seekers

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Increasingly, the ‘Australian model’ of offshore detention is promoted to restrict asylum seeker migration and preserve national sovereignty. This paper analyses metaphor usage within press coverage of immigration to examine the origins of this discourse. Focusing on two high points of asylum seeker arrivals (2001–2002, 2012–2013), I demonstrate how negative metaphor use constructed asylum seekers as racialized, illegitimate, illegal Others, who breached Australian sovereignty. I argue this that this was a response to a crisis of settler-colonial legitimacy, exacerbated by calls for Indigenous sovereignty, with anti-asylum discourse utilized as a tool to negate and neutralize Indigenous sovereignty claims and legitimate settler-colonial state power. I further argue that sovereignty claims were employed to reinforce Australia’s positioning within regional hierarchies of power, through the enactment of offshore processing agreements with less powerful, ostensibly ‘sovereign’ nations, thereby reaffirming and legitimating a racialized, neo-colonial ordering of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2024


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