Liminality & Belonging in Refugee Resettlement: An Ethnographic Case Study of Bhutanese Refugees in the UK

Abstract

The paper is based on qualitative, ethnographic research with Bhutanese refugees who resettled to the UK via the Gateway Protection Programme. In this context, borderland is not a physical space, but a state of mind, in which stateless refugees attempt to negotiate between different identities: whilst seeking to ‘integrate' in the British host society, they identify through their Nepali ethnicity, and seek to maintain their cultural heritage through establishing community organisations and retaining strong ties with relatives and friends in other resettlement nations. In addition, they suffer from the emotional impact of being exiled from Bhutan, their home country, without the possibility to be repatriated. The refugees' everyday life is characterised by a perpetual struggle to negotiate their multiple belongings in a multi-cultural setting such as the UK, in which co-presence and co-existence are ever-present. The paper examines the Bhutanese refugees' state of liminality, in which they may feel a sense of belonging to three nations (Bhutan, Nepal and the UK), cultures and values, whilst being citizen of none. Ethnographic research has the advantage to provide in-depth knowledge of the experiences of one particular community of refugees, and this research serves as a useful, comprehensive case study to illustrate the impact of involuntary migration and migration policy on individuals' sense of belonging.



Author Information
Nicole Hoellerer, Brunel University, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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