1st Edition

Asylum Seeking and the Global City

By Francesco Vecchio Copyright 2015
    234 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Asylum seeking and the global city are two major contemporary subjects of analysis to emerge both in the literature and in public and official discourses on human rights, urban socioeconomic change and national security. Based on extensive, original ethnographic research, this book examines the situation of asylum seekers in Hong Kong and offers a narrative of their experiences related to internal and external borders, the performance of border crossing and asylum politics in the context of the global city.

    Hong Kong is a city with no comprehensive legislation covering refugee claims and official and public opinion is dominated by the view that the city would be flooded with illegal economic migrants were policy changes to be implemented. This book considers why Hong Kong has become a destination for asylum seekers, how asylum seekers integrate into local and global economic markets and why the illegalization of asylum seekers plays a significant role in the processes of global city formation.

    This book will be essential reading for academics and students involved in the study of migration; globalization and borders; research methods in criminology; social problems and urban sociology.

    1. Introduction  2. The global city and asylum seeking  3. Global phenomena and local responses  4. Crossing borders into Hong Kong  5. Establishing life at destination  6. Asylum seeker engagement with the informal economy  7. (Un)wanted people in a global city.


    Francesco Vecchio is a postdoctoral research fellow at Charles Sturt University, and collaborates with Fondazione ISMU and Hong Kong-based NGO Vision First. He develops research on mobility and borders with a focus on refugees. Francesco completed his PhD in Criminology at Monash University, and previously worked in the nonprofit sector. He completed his undergraduate studies in History at the University of Milan and obtained a Masters in Intercultural Studies from the University of Padua.

    'Asylum Seeking and the Global City is an impressive ethnographic study of asylum seekers, their transnational networks and survival strategies in the informal economy of Hong Kong. Through his vivid and sensitive depictions of life on the margins, Francesco Vecchio provides a major analysis of the intersections of local and global forces and individual agency in irregular migration and the troubling consequences of contemporary migration control policies and practices. A must-read for all those who are interested in globalisation studies and the criminology of mobility.' - Professor Maggy Lee, Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    'The book Asylum Seeking and the Global City by Dr. Francesco Vecchio is an excellent work. The author relies on his substantial research in the field and previous experience as a NGO worker in Hong Kong to give a rich and thick description of the life of refugees and asylum seekers in that city, one of the best ethnographic accounts of life in Hong Kong. I was deeply impressed with the careful, detailed and thoughtful treatment that Dr.Vecchio gave to the rich empirical material he collected. I found particularly arresting the way in which he was able to show how the conditions and destiny of many migrants are the outcome of an almost heroic struggle between conditions outside of their control and their continuous striving to acquire a measure of power and control over their own lives and destiny. This very presence of "agency" in the migrants’ lives – faced with often overarching economic and political forces – is perhaps the strongest impression with which the reader comes away from this book, where we find a wealth of empirical observation, mixed with very intelligent analysis, and a reflexive empathy for his subjects.’ - Dario Melossi, Professor of Criminology, University of Bologna, Italy

    'Compared to most existing literature, Francesco Vecchio’s Asylum seeking and the Global City has the merit of being one of the rare studies in which the connections between economic globalization and migrants’ marginalization are traced through careful and extensive empirical analysis. The book is a remarkably well researched study of asylum seekers’ and refugees’ socio-legal and economic conditions in Hong Kong. Based on long, systematic fieldwork and benefiting from the author’s own experience as a legal aid worker, it’s particularly rich in ethnographic and legal data on both Hong Kong’s migration history and current legal regime. This in itself makes it a valuable tool for practitioners and students interested asylum and migration in South-East Asia.' — Elisa Pascucci, Border Criminologies