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Belonging Beyond Citizenship: Refugee Women’s Practices of Home-making and Community Building
The contemporary world has witnessed an increasing number of people forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflicts, wars, and persecution, leading to the formation of new communities and relationships across national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. This article aims to shed light on the alternative forms of belonging that emerge among displaced women through their everyday practices and interactions with host societies. In contrast to ethnocentric ideas of belonging that are tied to a specific location or national identity, this study highlights the everyday practices of home-making, self-fashioning, kindness, and solidarity among displaced individuals and hosts as alternative ways of building a sense of belonging in multicultural and multinational communities. These mundane practices challenge the dominant nationalist ideas, or the “national order of things” as described by Malkki (1995) that rely on the normative idea of belonging rooted within national borders and communities, reinforcing the ethno-national discourses of belonging. I argue that social and affective practices of belonging are crucial for the survival and well-being of displaced communities. Drawing on ethnographic research and life-history interviews with Syrian refugee women, I illuminate the ways in which forcibly displaced Syrian women become agents of their own social identity and belonging, engendering a sense of attachment and security as they move through and resettle in unfamiliar spaces. In the face of political, economic, and humanitarian hardships, including the COVID-19 pandemic and earthquakes in Southeast Turkey, the strategies employed by Syrian refugee women to avoid (un)belonging and antagonisms while negotiating to ensure social security for themselves and their families became crucial for their social survival in the region. By utilizing common cultural grounds of neighborliness, piety, motherhood, and hospitality, these women carve out a space for themselves within local communities. The article analyzes the relationship between identity, belonging, and displacement from women's perspective while providing a relational and contextualized approach to the concept of belonging, emphasizing the importance of everyday practices and interactions in the formation of a sense of attachment and security among displaced communities.
Geographic Area
Islamic World
Mediterranean Countries
Sub Area