Narratives of War: How Somali Women Story Their Experiences of War

Prof Doc Thesis

Saleh, W. 2019. Narratives of War: How Somali Women Story Their Experiences of War. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsSaleh, W.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: The literature on refugee experiences of war is problem saturated, viewing these experiences as ‘traumatic’, leading to a range of “mental health problems” including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and those who experience them as ‘victims’. This is based on Western worldviews and ignores local and community constructions of experience. Resilience theorists provide a relative departure from problem-based constructions of refugee stories but rely heavily on the concept of trauma, privileging powerful medicalised Western worldviews legitimatised by “scientific claims”. Research specifically exploring the narratives of refugees’ firsthand experience of war is scarce.
Methodology: This research used a narrative analytic methodology from a feminist social constructionist perspective to understand how four Somali women refugees who have not used services in the UK, recount their experiences of war.
Findings: Participants’ personal injury did not mean as much to them as did their views about shattered Somali identity, loss of belonging, neighbours and community. They linked recovery to mended relationships with God and community and put emphasis on forgiveness and their roles as peace makers and witnesses to gross human rights violations. The conceptual and semantic challenges of these findings to Western culture, based on concepts of self and resilience, are discussed. The implications for psychology practice, research and policy are also explored.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online24 Jul 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Jul 2020
SubmittedMay 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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