Dr Rebecca Yeo

Research Topic Title: Refining and promoting a ‘social model of asylum’ as a tool to transform responses to disability and forced migration in the UK.

My doctoral thesis brought together insights and experiences from the disabled peoples movement and the asylum sector.  Assuming that no social order is inevitable, Iinvestigate how hegemonic representations of the needs and entitlements associated with disability and forced migration in the UK are determined, reinforced, and contested. People with lived experience of the impact of current inequalities provide the central insights and motivation for my work.  I bring together the disabled people’s movement, the asylum sector and allies to build solidarity, learn from the experiences of disabled asylum seekers and collaboratively consider possible solutions.  As such, my research is focused on:

  • Developing a ‘social model’ of asylum, building on  the social model of disability. This would facilitate understanding of the disabling impact of the asylum system on those subject to restrictions on the ability to meet human needs.
  • learning from the lived experiences of disabled asylum seekers.
  • collaborative learning and publicly engaged academic research to contribute to the paradigmatic shift required to contest intersectional inequalities of entitlement.

The experiences of disabled asylum seekers could provide the impetus to develop a broad-based movement of mutual solidarity through which to contest intersectional injustice and contest the distinctions of human worth which have become hegemonic in contemporary society.

Mentor: Bridget Anderson


Yeo, R. and Moore, K., 2003. Including Disabled People in Poverty Reduction Work: “Nothing About Us, Without Us”. World Development, 31(3), pp. 571-590.

Yeo, R., 2006. Disability, poverty and the “new” development agenda’. In: In or out of the mainstream? Lessons from research on disability and development cooperation, edited by Bill Albert, Leeds, The Disability Press, 2006.

Yeo, R., 2015.  ‘Disabled asylum seekers?… They don’t really exist’: The marginalisation of disabled asylum seekers in the UK and why it matters.  Disability in the global south.  2 (1), pp. 523-550.

Yeo, R., 2017a.  The deprivation experienced by disabled asylum seekers in the United Kingdom: symptoms, causes, and possible solutions.  Disability and Society. 32 (5), pp. 657-677.

Yeo, R., 2017b.  Disabled asylum seekers as experimental subjects in a broader systemic agenda of inequality.  In: Inequalities in the UK: New discourses, evolutions, and actions.  Fee, D. & Kober-Smith, A. (eds.).  Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., pp. 235-252.

Yeo, R., 2018.  Before he was murdered, here is what a disabled asylum seeker had to say about Britain’s ‘hostile environment’.  The Conversation.  29 June 2018.  (republished by The Independent and The Metro).  Available at: https://theconversation.com/before-he-was-murdered-here-is-what-a-disabled-asylum-seeker-had-to-say-about-britains-hostile-environment-98908

Yeo, R., 2018.  Two years after Kamil Ahmad’s murder, there is cause for hope and anger.  Bristol Cable.  20 August 2018.

Yeo, R. 2019a.  The regressive impact of labels of vulnerability affecting disabled asylum seekers in the UK.  Disability and Society.  34 (7).

Yeo, R., 2019b.  Disability and forced migration. Chapter 5 in: Social work with asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants: theory and skills for practice.  Jessica Kingsley.


Email: rebecca.yeo@bristol.ac.uk

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/rebecca-yeo-disabilityandmigration/

Twitter: @disabmurals