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'It was the most beautiful country I have ever seen': the role of Somali narrative in adapting to a new country

Ramsden, Robyn and Ridge, Damien T. (2013) 'It was the most beautiful country I have ever seen': the role of Somali narrative in adapting to a new country. Journal of Refugee Studies, 26 (2). pp. 226-246. ISSN 0951-6328

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fes021

Abstract

Refugees are known to use narrative and draw on their memories of a homeland when displaced/in exile in an unfamiliar country to re-affirm their identities, and build a life in the new country. Nevertheless, little is known about how Somali refugees distinctively construct narratives in a new country as a means of coping in the present. In analysing narratives of Somali refugees who attended educational events in Melbourne, Australia, we examinedstories and memories as they relate to adapting to the new country. Drawing on a qualitative, mainly in-depth interview-based study with Somali parents and key informants, we argue that a collective re-imagining of Somali society is a key to the way people go about coping and managing current change. Despite experiencing the intense social disruption of civil war, idyllic stories of past family and community life are told, providing both a contrast to disconnection, individualism and risk inAustralia, as well as a thread back to a mythical Somalia.We argue that the particular narrative constructions put forward by participants are an important form of agency, counterbalancing narratives of oppressed refugees in a new country.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Life Sciences, School of
ID Code:10330
Deposited On:08 Mar 2012 10:27
Last Modified:24 Jun 2013 16:46

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