in: Z'Flucht. Zeitschrift für Flucht- und Flüchtlingsforschung 2 (1), 32 - 56
This article critiques the positivist position, which separates the law from politics.It argues that implementation of refugee law is mediated by factors that straddle the law/politics binary. Based on a case study in Nairobi, Kenya, the article discusses the inherently political nature of ›refugeeness‹ and susceptibility of refugee law to power, assumptions and images that underpin credibility assessment in Refugee Status Determination (RSD). It analyses history, experience, memory and precedence in RSD and shows that these have varying rather than automatic and predictable outcomes. The article also critiques customary depiction of refugee applicants as victims or disempowered objects of charity at the mercy of RSD officials. Drawing on empirical data, it suggests that refugee applicants are not docile and helpless bodies lacking the capacity to influence decisions that affect them. On the contrary, they contest unfavourable RSD decisions and utilise
available resources in order to influence outcomes of the process. The article shows how the contestation between RSD officials and refugee applicants invests the truth with an instrumental rather than moral value in the quest for positive decisions for applications.