A study of Emmauel Levinas’ Philosophy as an Ethical Foundation for Asylum-Seeker Policy.
Beyond the Wire was awarded recognition on the Chancellor’s List 2012 for outstanding calibre doctoral research.
Currently I am exploring the possibilities of publishing Beyond the Wire to make it easily available. Already scholars, students and lawyers are making use of it.
lt was a great pleasure to read Beyond the Wire. It is one of the precious few dissertations infused with moments of great beauty and insight— it is a “page turner”. Wainer has admirably accomplished the difficult task of creating a non-traditional work that balances both scholarly components and creative elements. The work comes off as an impressive whole that makes significant contributions in several scholarly areas of inquiry; theoretically, substantively, and methodologically.
Her writing style is refreshing and exceedingly ambitious.
Theoretically, it concretizes Levinas’ thought in more palpable ways than is customary while remaining faithful to it. Wainer develops an extended phenomenology … Her phenomenology should be required reading for all scholars seeking to apply Levinasian insights to social and political issues.
Devorah has allowed the theoretical (her phenomenology based upon Levinas) and the methodological (participatory ethnography and self-analysis) to be informed and inform the subject matter (the experiences of detainees and their visitors). The three simultaneously shape each other, thus contributing significantly to our understanding of theory, method, and the experiences of detainees.
Professor William Simmons
Beyond the Wire is clearly written, elegantly conceived and manages to translate complex theory into language available to a broad readership. The writing is deceptive in its simplicity and the author handles difficult material well.
In an expansive and compassionate address to the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas, Wainer teases together an embodied understanding of theory and compassionate engagement in an effort to make right relations with the people she encounters.
The author’s discussion of ‘applied’ Levinas and Talmudic thought as embodied engaged dialogic practice is particularly riveting. Wainer is linking material that I’ve rarely seen so practically applied to this pragmatic ethics. Although Levinas is considered a pragmatic ethical philosopher, much writing about his work is highly theoretical and does not take the kind of risks Wainer takes, grappling with the deeply personal and reaching across disciplines. To her credit, she is able to combine the plain speaking, the personal and the theoretical with considerable ease.
Professor Julie Salverson
It is a rare experience to examine a thesis that embodies its topic of inquiry with such courage, originality and conviction. Devorah Wainer’s Beyond the Wire exemplifies the unique embodiment of her topic of inquiry: an intellectually cogent and emotionally affecting transposition of Levinasian ethics to the asylum seekers and refugees.
It is a testament to her courageous embodiment and her profound understanding of Levinasian ethics. In refusing to disqualify the importance of the personal within the frame of her thesis, as something that is absolutely integral to the ethos of her thesis, Wainer proceeds to materialise all the critical dimensions that repeatedly get censored, effaced or devalued in the actual material production of intellectual/academic work.
Wainer, in the course of this thesis, refuses to play it safe on this count, refusing with conviction, and in practice, what Levinas terms ‘the cruelty of the impersonal’.
What emerges in the course of Beyond the Wire is a complex and rich multi-dimensional text that strives to embody the heterogeneity of voices, experiences and subjects that encompass her field of inquiry.
This thesis is distinguished not only by its profound understanding of Levinasian philosophy in order to illuminate the topic of inquiry, but by the inscription of palimpsests of history, biography and autobiography that serve to mark the serial logic of state violence as it is exercised and experienced across different spaces (South Africa and Australia) and different subjects (South African anti apartheid activists and Australian refugee advocates). These historical palimpsests are powerfully illuminated, in turn, by the effective use of Buber, Arendt and, of course, Levinas.
Professor Joseph Pugliese