Negotiating Culture As Refugees: A Case Study of Somali Bantu and Burmese Karen
Ireland, Anna L.
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Refugee resettlement policy has become a raising issue in the city of Buffalo, NY. As a city that annually resettles some of the highest numbers of refugees in the country, Buffalo has seen ever increasing numbers of refugees. During the last ten years, refugee resettlement policy has changed drastically at the international level, and in this dissertation, I look at the local implications. I do this through examining the current policy and how policy affects specific incoming groups of refugees. Two major refugee groups, the Somali Bantu and the Burmese Karen have arrived in Buffalo over the last ten years. Despite similarities in their refugee journeys, these two groups have had vastly different experiences during their resettlement process. I show how these differences are tied to their cultural identities, both in their home countries and in their journeys as through refugee camps, and into a third country. I examine how violence and displacement are collectively internalized by these two groups and how that these interpretations changed the resettlement process. Finally, I make recommendations for policy, showing that participatory based community development allows these two groups to reclaim their agency. To complete my research, I used qualitative data acquired through formal and informal interviews with refugees and those who worked closely with these two groups. I also used literature review to provide a foundation for my interviews.