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Alien Nation



Access Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Program

Political Science

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Can we (re)write our own subjectivity? What is lost in translation when we attempt to remake ourselves through speech acts? These questions are perhaps the most unsolvable and fundamental to inquiries into the operations of subjectivity. Nevertheless, they are questions I am to encounter and explore in this paper through a singular case study of the Manus Island Regional Processing Center. Founded in 2001, the Manus Island Processing Center served as a place for Australia to indefinitely detain refugees off-shore. The Processing Center was also a contentious site of violence and protest, of stillness and chaos, of love and despair. The Manus refugees were engaged in a daily effort to translate and tell their experiences to bring about an end to their detention. Using an extensive archive of primary sources from the island, including government documents, video, pictures, diaries, and notes, I aim to examine how the Manus refugees attempt to translate their subject position to an Australian audience. I explore how these speech acts are co-opted or interpellated by the dominate discourses they enter into dialogue with, and the translational problematics that arise when trying to tell one’s own subjectivity differently.


First Advisor

Barbara Cruikshank

Second Advisor

Svati Shah