Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-11-2016

Major Department or Program



Aaron Bobrow-Strain


In 2014 the United States Board of Immigration Appeals published the decision Matter of A-R-C-G-, which sets precedent recognizing domestic violence as potential grounds for asylum. Lawyers and immigrant advocates celebrated this recognition of gendered violence in U.S. asylum law but criticized its narrow scope. The thesis argues that the logic used in the Matter of A-R-C-G- decision would better support an expansive recognition of gender-based violence through a gender-plus-nationality particular social group rather than the articulated group “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship.” Furthermore, the asylum apparatus struggles to understand non-state persecutors, mischaracterizing domestic violence as a private issue. Even when recognizing domestic violence as a political problem the analysis focuses on the state as persecutor by emphasizing the action/inaction of the police. This gaze on the state emphasizes nation-states as the center of analysis in asylum, reinforcing sovereign immigration control and limiting the nature of what persecutions are visible to asylum. However, the expansion of asylum to include domestic violence demonstrates the possibility of incorporating currently unrecognized forms of persecution in asylum and re-envisioning to whom the state is responsible.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Domestic violence -- Legislation & jurisprudence, Women immigrants -- Violence against -- United States, Asylum seekers -- Political refugees, United States -- Board of Immigration Appeals -- Matter of A.R.C.G, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 -- Politics Department

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Public Accessible Thesis

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