Refugee Returns - Experiences of Inclusion Here and There

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:45 AM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Sirpa KORHONEN , Communication, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, Jyväskylä, Finland
My doctoral dissertation focuses on the personal experiences of research participants, legally defined as refugees, in relation to their reentries to the region of their origin, from Finland. Reentry, a fluid concept, adopted from intercultural communication research, illuminates several types of return that appear along a spectrum from normative notions of ‘permanence’ to relatively transnational outcomes. Specific examples in my interview data include forced return, voluntary return and onward migration, patterned visits, following return in Chile, Iraq, or Vietnam. Applying Rosenthal’s biographic-narrative interview as the interview method of study, the participants narrate their life story, which is then analyzed, in terms of phenomena linked to return, especially concerning the biographers’ social networks. My aim in this presentation is to illuminate how the participants narrate experiences of inclusion and exclusion in different settings in Finland and as a returnee, in the region of their origin. In addition, the interviews illuminate other key settings, events, relationships and issues that play a critical role in their lives. Experiences of being different are frequent in the participants’ narratives – both here and there – and they frequently reflect on this, often showing remarkable social acuity and awareness of social and cultural dynamics, in terms of aspiration, achievement, abandonment – or being contextually-abandoned, with the result of either achieving the aspired position or experiences of abandonment. In addition, normative framing and unquestioned assumptions are frequently encountered, presenting an ongoing and central challenge, for both myself and those I have invited to participate in this research.