School of Law


Often times when certain aspects of our world are not easily understood, seemingly unresolvable or appear to be in conflict with another, they are referred to as being in ‘limbo’. The overall impression of limbo is immediately understood. It is in part a type of ‘standstill’, either physical and/or temporal, in which one set of circumstances will not take place until another set of circumstances begins or ends. Limbo is part of the paradigm we have created in relation to our world. To a certain extent, this paradigm stems from theological understandings of the afterlife. Namely, there is a Heaven (or a place of Earth which is like Heaven) and there is a Hell (or a place on Earth which is like Hell). Following this understanding, limbo forms part of that ‘in-between’ area, or even more correctly, that area which is neither Heaven nor Hell and therefore, stands outside both of these realms. When those conflicts that relate to the law come into play, ‘legal limbos’ are said to exist. It is quite often that refugees and asylum seekers around the world are referred to in relation to some sort of limbo. That is, that they are somehow ‘outside’ the ‘normal’ order of things; physically, socially, and/or legally. However, the fact that limbo – in all its forms - is a ‘man-made’ device seems to get less recognition. Little research has been conducted in relation to colloquial understandings of ‘limbo’, even more so as it relates to the law. Yet, there are many questions regarding limbo. This thesis seeks to pick apart limbo through several different methods. Given the breath of our understanding of limbo and its influence in our society, aspects of literature, religion, theatre, and metaphor are all utilised in the analysis presented in this thesis.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.