Journal Article

‘No! I'm Not a Refugee!’ The Poetics of Be-Longing among Young Oromos in Toronto

Martha Kuwee Kumsa

in Journal of Refugee Studies

Volume 19, issue 2, pages 230-255
Published in print June 2006 | ISSN: 0951-6328
Published online June 2006 | e-ISSN: 1471-6925 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fel001
‘No! I'm Not a Refugee!’ The Poetics of Be-Longing among Young Oromos in Toronto

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  • Human Rights and Immigration
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This paper presents some findings from an empirical study carried out with young Oromos living in Toronto. To capture the complexities of negotiating be-longing, the paper offers dispersal–affinity—a new conceptual framework empirically grounded in an innovative methodological design. Using participants' narratives in the empirical material, the paper contests the dualism created between essentialist and constructionist perspectives. It employs dispersal–affinity to explore participants' understandings of ‘the refugee’ and the wider processes of refugeeization and refugee be-longing. Findings suggest that be-longing is a project of selfhood that is both fixed and constantly shifting. It is argued that be-longing is constructed from the same movements of selfhood within and through social relationships. Young Oromos employ both essentialist and constructionist discourses to weave multiple layers of fixed and mobile be-longing. Implications for refugee studies are discussed wherein dispersal–affinity is offered to critically engage the recent debate on ‘deceit and trickery’ among refugees.

Keywords: refugee youth in Canada; Oromo identity

Journal Article.  12029 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration ; Human Geography ; International Relations ; Aid and Relief Programmes ; Refugee Studies

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