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Finding home away from home: place attachement; place identity, belonging and resettlement among African-Australians in Hobart


Hiruy, K, Finding home away from home: place attachement; place identity, belonging and resettlement among African-Australians in Hobart, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, Germany, pp. 136. ISBN 9783843386203 (2009) [Authored Other Book]


This thesis explores the resettlement experiences of former African refugees in Hobart. It provides insight into their lived experiences and conceptualises displacement, place attachment, identity, belonging, place making and resettlement in the life of a refugee. It argues that current discourse on refugees’ resettlement in popular media, academics and among host communities lacks veracity, and offers an alternative view to enrich current knowledge and encourage further research and debate. In this study 26 people from five countries of origin (Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Sudan) shared their life experiences in focus group discussions and interviews. Refugee theories and literature in resettlement, place attachment, place - identity, belonging and resettlement were also reviewed. To develop an account of the lived experiences of refugees and understand the ways in which they create places, negotiate identity and belonging in the resettlement process, phenomenology and discourse analysis are used. The refugee situations in the case of African refugees are primarily caused by armed conflict. Singling out one cause is however problematic, the situation is far complex and the interplay of socio-economic, political and environmental factors is evident. The thesis offers a framework to understand the various socio-economic and political situations that create refugee situations. The nature of forced displacement as an immediate outcome of the refugee situation is also complex; it is both multidirectional and multidimensional. Displacement as a phenomenon invokes emotional place attachment, and the creation and recreation of places and identities. Participants’ responses and observations show that the nature of forced displacement among African refugees creates fluidity and multiplicity in identity and belonging. This fluidity and multiplicity in identity and belonging is particularly significant among young people. It can be argued that the outcome of resettlement is highly influenced by past and present social and emotional experiences. Settlers see the success of their settlement in relation to their social participation and interaction. The existence of a clear connection of past and present social and emotional experiences to resettlement and belonging is an important insight. It unsettles established resettlement planning practices which are mainly based on practical resettlement, and calls for an inclusion of the settlers’ perspectives, which in the case of African refugees in Hobart includes the central importance of social, cultural and emotional factors as key to resettlement and belonging. This study is significant in providing a platform for further research and debate by highlighting alternative arguments in relation to attitude towards refugees, identity, belonging and resettlement. It also provides insight to the lived experiences of African refugees in Hobart, which are important for those working in resettlement, for social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, and others who work with African refugees.

Item Details

Item Type:Authored Other Book
Keywords:African refugees; resettlement; belonging to place
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Cultural studies
Research Field:Migrant cultural studies
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Other culture and society
Objective Field:Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Hiruy, K (Dr Kiros Hiruy)
ID Code:74376
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Institute for Regional Development
Deposited On:2011-11-24
Last Modified:2014-09-26

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