Earlier Research

Ph.D. Anthropology, American University (2016)

My doctoral dissertation, “LGBT Asylum Seekers and NGO Advocacy in the United States,” was based on sixteen months of ethnographic research carried out with NGOs which support and advocate for sexual and gender non-conforming, or ‘LGBT,’ asylum seekers in three U.S. states. I asked: How do NGOs shape popular understandings of LGBT asylum seekers? Concurrently, how do their activities impact the lives of the individuals they support?

My research aimed to:

  • examine how the asylum process affects claimants sense of self (gender, sexuality, nationality, and belonging)
  • uncover hitherto unrecognized barriers to seeking, and winning asylum, especially for women
  • explore stated and unstated motivations for LGBT asylum seeker advocates and service providers, including faith-based groups
  • encourage progressive policy change to better fit the needs of LGBT and other sexual and gender nonconforming people in the immigration system
  • document and map strategies used by attorneys representing LGBT cases and direct service-providers

The dissertation will be available via institutional database in August 2017.

M.A. in Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester (2010)

K, with her son, in the film 'Still Life'
K, with her son, in the film ‘Still Life’

I completed my MA in Visual Anthropology at the world renown Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at The University of Manchester. My MA Thesis comprised a 30-minute ethnographic documentary and companion text, entitled: “Still Life: Waiting for Asylum in the UK” (see below). I adopted a collaborative approach with Woman Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) in Manchester, UK for this project.

I continued working with WAST into 2010, to develop the play ‘How I Became An Asylum Seeker’ written by Lydia Besong, who is featured in my film. I later directed a film version of the play, available on DVD from WAST.

During my MA, I also made other films, including Daily Bread, which received an Honorable Mention in the Signis Prize category at the 2009 Insight Film Festival, and Memory, Movement and Manchester United (below), an exploration of football fandom and the affective process experienced by supporters traveling to watch their team play.

Memory, Movement and Manchester United from Siobhan McGuirk on Vimeo.

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