SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Lijnders, Laurie Anna Catharina (2024) Mothering against Asylum and Border Regimes: Eritrean Women’s Navigations of Settler Colonial Israel and Beyond. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

Text - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Download (4MB) | Preview


Contextualising asylum and migration within the settler colonial state of Israel, this dissertation explores how Black, non-Jewish women from Eritrea, who identify as mothers, navigate, resist, and respond to the Israeli asylum regime. The dissertation explores the overlap of gendered racialisation and legal precarity Eritrean mothers encounter within the settler colonial state of Israel and beyond. First, I explore the continuum of violence experienced by women from Eritrea, stretching from life under Eritrean dictatorship, along the migration route, and through to the daily reality under the Israeli asylum regime. Israeli border and asylum policies and practices exacerbate past harms and have significant gendered consequences. Second, I set out the ethnographic research methods used and methodological challenges faced when studying Eritrean women through a feminist-activist, multi-sited ethnography in Israel and the United Kingdom between 2016 and 2018. I explore how theory and epistemology are intertwined with activism, research practice, and everyday life. Third, I understand the Israeli asylum regime as an integral part of settler colonialism and apartheid and explore how the infrastructures and policies used to oppress, violate, erase, and exclude Palestinian people and occupy Palestinian land are used to exclude, criminalise and violate the rights of Black non-Jewish asylum seeking women. Following this analysis, I examine how an Eritrean mother and her wider intimate ties were impacted by and challenged three state policies under the Israeli asylum regime: the detention of single men in Holot Detention Centre, the “Voluntary Departure” Scheme, and the taxation policy or ‘deposit’ law. Fourth, I explore the emotions and practicalities of maintaining families transnationally. Through the narratives and lived experiences of a small number of Eritrean women, I emphasise various aspects of prolonged transnational motherhood in the context of gendered and racialised legal precarity under the Israeli asylum regime. I ask how mothers sustained and cared for children in, through, and against conditions of protracted displacement with limited opportunities for family reunification and shared futures. Finally, I conclude the dissertation by following three Eritrean mothers as they irregularly leave the settler colonial state of Israel to secure legal status and permanent protection for themselves and their children, some still unborn. These Eritrean mothers used forged Ethiopian Israeli identity documents to travel to the UK to enable family reunification with the children they left behind in Israel. I argue that by engaging in acts of refusing the global apartheid regime, its interconnected processes of migration enforcement, and their racialised orderings, the Eritrean mothers shaped a future for themselves and their children.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: Settler Colonialism, Resistance, Motherhood, Mobility, Gendered Racialisation, Legal Precarity
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Tania Tribe
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2024 15:48

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item