University of Tasmania
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Finding home far away from home : place attachment, place-identity, belonging and resettlement among African-Australians in Hobart

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posted on 2023-05-26, 03:50 authored by Hiruy, K
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, academia 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 understanding of the ways in which they create places, negotiate identity and belonging in the resettlement process, phenomenology and discourse analysis are used. The refugee status of African refugees is primarily caused by armed conflict. Singling out one cause is however problematic. The situation is far more complex and the interplay of socio-economic, political and environmental factors is evident. The thesis offers a framework to understand the various socio-economic, political and environmental 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‚ÄövÑvº responses and observations show that the nature of forced displacement among African refugees creates fluidity and multiplicity in identity and belonging for 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‚ÄövÑvº 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 social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, and others working with the resettlement of refugees.


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