Narratives of Extreme Adversity and Strength Amongst Eritrean Refugee People

Prof Doc Thesis

Ghezai, H. 2017. Narratives of Extreme Adversity and Strength Amongst Eritrean Refugee People. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsGhezai, H.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Eritrea is currently one of the top ten countries from which individuals seek asylum; with the number of Eritrean refugee people tripling in the United Kingdom (UK) since 2014. Eritreans have fled their homeland for many different reasons, including: the 1961-1993 Eritrean-Ethiopian independence war, the 1998- 2000 border conflict and more recently, human rights violations. Extreme adversity is not an uncommon human experience, however discourses surrounding “psychological trauma” have dominated the way in which refugee people’s experiences are understood. This often means that professionals are limited to working with refugee people within rigid Western frameworks for understanding adversity and resilience. Such ways of working enforces the dominant medical narrative, de-politicises adversity and silences more subjugated ways of understanding extreme adversity and resilience. Ethnographic narrative analysis was used to explore how Eritrean refugee people made sense of their experiences, as well as the multifaceted and contextual ways they have narrated these experiences. The study revealed that participants did not make sense of or respond to their experiences within the trauma framework. Rather, participants made sense of their experiences within the socio-political, economic and historical context in which they existed, and told stories of acceptance, hope, survival and justice. Furthermore, strength was not understood as an internal quality or ability, but as a process embedded within the social and cultural contexts that existed. Recommendations for the theory and practice of clinical psychology and policy will be explored, alongside suggestions for future research.

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Publication dates
PrintMay 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Jan 2018
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