Taking an anthropological approach, the author reflects on refugees and clandestine immigrants, and in particular on the fractured structure of their narratives. This attempt to grasp the sense of vagueness or silence we so often find in immigrants’ stories is designed to draw attention to the psychological consequences of both traumatic past events and of the unpredictability and uncertainty often experienced in host countries. The author further argues that the attitudes of social workers involved in clandestine migration and refugee issues reveal unconscious attitudes characteristic of meeting with the Other which also convey the contradictions, racism, and hypocrisy of our policies and governments. The author finally discusses the scenarios of death, violence and apartheid that characterize the day-to- day life of many undocumented immigrants, and invites academic researchers not to take for granted such descriptive terms as ‘clandestine’, ‘refugees’, and so on.
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