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Metaphors and Narratives in Exile: Understanding the Experiences of Forced Migrants in Britain.

Hack-Polay, Dieu Donne. (2006) Metaphors and Narratives in Exile: Understanding the Experiences of Forced Migrants in Britain. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The research aimed to reach an understanding of the experience of exile by investigating aspects of life in exile and how refugees portray their own experiences of asylum and define what asylum has meant to them in the process of living in and integrating their host society. The study, focusing on 30 refugees from Congo, Kosovo and Somalia, has sought to examine some of the metaphors that refugees associated with the experience of exile and the narration of these experiences in their own words. The search for meaning has dominated the research and throughout the analysis metaphors formulated by the refugees have been used to elucidate the argument. Some key findings have revealed the following: - There are contradictions in what asylum means to different refugees. The perception of exile ranges from ‘hell’ to ‘heaven’ and from ‘safe haven’ to further ‘trauma’. - The process to re-socialisation is not straightforward and many different factors, in isolation or in combination, deeply affect the process. These range from the degree of coercion leading to exile, racialisation in the host country to the multiplicity and types of networks available to the exile in the host country and the degree to which the exile exploits them successfully. - The perception of home is difficult to agree. For people torn apart such as the Somali, Congolese and Kosovan refugees studied, home is neither here or there (i. e. neither in the host country or the country of origin); home is nowhere because events in the home country have disconnected them from feeling a sense of belonging and often isolation and racialisation in the host country comes short of enabling them to connect psychologically, socially and culturally with the new place. The metaphors used by the refugees carry a sense of nostalgia for the past and the lost land for many refugees. The nostalgia and loss encompasses the deficit in social status and mobility, the diminishing cultural identity including language as well as mere familiarity with the environment. But the narratives, with all their emotional contents, carry both a sense of hope and despair. The hope resided in the forecasting of better days in the native country which might trigger the refugees’ return to their “natural waters” as a respondent put it metaphorically to refer to the original socio-cultural milieu the refugees originated from. For the stayers, hope was expressed in their seeing themselves finding ‘a place under the sun’ in the land of their exile. However, at the same time, the stagnation or worsening of the situation in the native land and often combined with the feeling of or categorisation as outsiders and others in the host country brought a sense of despair. The study has enabled the drawing of the conclusion that life in exile can often be ambiguity, uncertainty, loss but could also be new light, salvation and opportunity. This dialectics seems to be at the heart and the essence of exile, so far as the humans involved are both psychologically and social beings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Hack-Polay, Dieu Donne.
Date : 2006
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2006.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 24 Apr 2020 15:27
Last Modified : 24 Apr 2020 15:27
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/855374

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