The meaning of home for Karen and Chin refugees from Burma: An interpretative phenomenological approach
Rosbrook, Bernadette & Schweitzer, Robert (2010) The meaning of home for Karen and Chin refugees from Burma: An interpretative phenomenological approach. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 12(2), pp. 159-172.
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Loss of home is common to all people from a refugee background yet we have little understanding of the diversity of meaning associated with this important concept. A phenomenological approach was used to explore experiences of home amongst Karen and Chin refugees residing in Brisbane. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine participants from Karen and Chin backgrounds. The participants comprised five females and four males (mean age 40 years, median length of time in Australia 1.33 years). Participants described their migration stories, including pre- and post-migration history. Analysis was conducted using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three superordinate themes, explicating the meaning of home for participants, were identified: home as the experience of a psychological space of safety and retreat; home as the socio-emotional space of relatedness to family; and home as geographical-emotional landscape. Loss of home was experienced as a multidimensional loss associated with emotional and physical disturbances. These findings, based upon a phenomenological paradigm, enhance understanding of the experience of being a refugee and of the suffering engendered by loss of home. They open up the possibility for conceptualizing refugee responses in terms of human suffering and meaning making.
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