Telling Stories from Start to Finish: Exploring the Demand for Narrative in Refugee Testimony

(2013) 22(1) Griffith Law Review 63

UTS: Law Research Paper No. 2013/3

24 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013 Last revised: 19 Feb 2014

See all articles by Anthea Vogl

Anthea Vogl

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

When people seeking refugee status come before departmental officers or administrative bodies, the applicant’s first person testimony plays a crucial role since there is often little or no other evidence – such as documents or witnesses – to support the claim being made. The distinctly narrative form of refugee applicants’ evidence and its central place in the status determination process make such testimony an ideal site from which to explore the law’s relationship with narrative. In this article I use one Refugee Review Tribunal decision to exemplify how demands for narrativity, in relation to both the content and form of evidence, influence determinations about the plausibility of refugee testimony. I argue that part of the law’s requirement for ‘plausible’ evidence involves an expectation that refugee applicants tell a good story – that is, one that predominantly conforms to the conventions of model narrative forms. When the law responds to the events and accidents within refugee testimony, narrative expectations are at play – and the precise terms of these standards and the content of ‘good’, orderly narratives are implicit, shifting and inconsistent.

Keywords: Refugee status determination, Narrative, Testimony, Refugee Review Tribunal, Credibility assessment, Gender

Suggested Citation

Vogl, Anthea, Telling Stories from Start to Finish: Exploring the Demand for Narrative in Refugee Testimony (2013). (2013) 22(1) Griffith Law Review 63; UTS: Law Research Paper No. 2013/3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2333032

Anthea Vogl (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney
Australia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
106
Abstract Views
836
rank
251,706
PlumX Metrics