Practices of Citizenship and Politics of Irregular Movements

Ashraful Azad

UNSW, Sydney, Australia

Drawing on empirical data and using theories from critical migration studies and citizenship studies, this study intervenes into two sets of literature- firstly, it contributes to the growing literature on Rohingya which generally depicts them as vulnerable victims at the mercy of more powerful actors, either being persecuted or pitied. Here, I rather focus on the agency of Rohingya refugees and migrants emphasising their strategic engagement with the sovereign and other powers. I argue that many Rohingya ‘refugees’ in Bangladesh go beyond their victimhood and engage in practices of citizenship. Secondly, it contributes to citizenship and political practices of irregular migrants and refugees. Irregular migrants, particularly the stateless, cross local and international borders despite being denied legal avenues for travel. I argue that such movements challenge the sovereign control of the border and subvert the humanitarian-security discourse of migrant smuggling and human trafficking. The states in this region do not adhere to the legal refugee regime, and such practices lie beyond the intervention of humanitarian organisations as well. Through such practices, this research investigates, whether the irregular migrants participate in the making of border and sovereign, and actively engage in a new form of politics.


Ashraful Azad is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. He completed BSS and MSS in International Relations from the University of Chittagong and MPhil in International Law from Monash University. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations, University of Chittagong.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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