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Doing belonging: Meanings of home and settlement among the Karen Community in Brisbane, Australia

Authors:

Jessica Bird ,

Queensland University of Technology, AU
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Leonie Cox,

Queensland University of Technology, AU
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Mark Brough

Queensland University of Technology, AU
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Abstract

The phenomenon of belonging allows diasporic people to negotiate socio-cultural terrains that go beyond singular attachments to “here” or “there”. This paper interrogates doing belonging amongst members of the Karen refugee community from Burma settling in Brisbane, Australia. We use data collected over twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork using the methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviews. This paper presents an interpretation of challenges faced by Karen community members as they grapple with local and transnational complexities of belonging within their own community, whilst also establishing belonging to Australian social environments. We argue that Karen participants’ lived experiences of settlement challenge bounded notions of belonging, thereby allowing us to extend dominant constructions of settlement and social inclusion and give way to a more nuanced representation of an emerging diasporic community. We thus reposition a resettled refugee community away from disempowering and exclusionary notions that dominant constructions of belonging and inclusion tend to impose.

How to Cite: Bird, J., Cox, L. and Brough, M., 2016. Doing belonging: Meanings of home and settlement among the Karen Community in Brisbane, Australia. Journal of Social Inclusion, 7(1), pp.72–84. DOI: http://doi.org/10.36251/josi.104
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Published on 28 Jul 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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