PUBLI : Izabela Wagner et Mariusz Finkielsztein, « Strategic Boredom : The Experience and Dynamics of Boredom in Refugee Camp. A Mediterranean Case », Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 2021, en ligne


This article examines the boredom of asylum seekers living in a refugee camp in southern Europe. It concerns the unders­tu­died yet wides­pread pheno­menon of boredom in the deten­tion centers and other places where people wait several months/​years to obtain permits to stay in a given state (EU) and cannot work. Boredom is defined as a socially constructed feeling that is an effect of the inter­ac­tion between people and institutional/​organizational ambiance that lacks quali­ties neces­sary to arouse enga­ge­ment. We distin­gui­shed three moda­li­ties of the pheno­menon : “doing nothing,” “life in limbo,” and “stra­tegic boredom.” We claim that the last is the most powerful pheno­menon. Stra­tegic boredom is the specific tool of strict control exer­cised on the asylum seekers by the admi­nis­tra­tion of the camp to force them to be idle and passive. On the other hand, the domi­nated group uses the expected mood of boredom as a stra­tegy to obtain the favors of camp admi­nis­tra­tion ; this strategy—they hope—will conclude in the obten­tion of a permit of stay and/​or the legal status of a refugee.

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