"A Story to Save Your Life: Communication and Culture in the Search for Asylum"
This project critically analyzes the roles of communication and culture in credible fear interviews and asylum hearings in the United States to elucidate how autobiographical testimonies enable and restrain asylum seekers in their efforts to establish themselves as deserving of protection from the U.S. government. Drawing on oral history interviews with asylum seekers, immigration officers and judges, attorneys, immigrant-serving organization personnel, and psychologists who provide evaluations for asylum cases, this work chronicles the ways culturally-bound norms of storytelling, emotions, and nonverbal behaviors affect the asylum process. The goal of this work is to enfranchise the currently underrepresented voices of asylum seekers and gain firsthand insights into their communicative encounters with the U.S. immigration system that determines their futures.
Sarah Bishop is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies at Baruch College, with affiliations in the Macaulay Honors College and the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. Bishop specializes in research concerning the interactions of migration, citizenship, nationalism, and media. Her most recent book, Undocumented Storytellers: Narrating the Immigrant Rights Movement, is now available from Oxford University Press (2019). Her previous book, U.S. Media and Migration: Refugee Oral Histories (Routledge, 2016), won an Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association and the Sue DeWine Distinguished Scholarly Book Award. Bishop is a former fellow of the ZeMKI Center for Media, Communication, and Information at the University of Bremen and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Her work appears in national and international journals including Communication & Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication, Culture & Critique, Space & Culture, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, and the Journal of Studies in International Education.