The Fragile Obligation: Gratitude, Discontent, and Dissent with Syrian Refugees in Canada
Keywords:Syrian, Mothers, Refugee, Emotions, Canada, Resettlement
AbstractThis article analyzes the emotional lives of Syrian refugee mothers in the first year of their recent resettlement in Canada. Drawing on two waves of interviews with 41 newcomer mothers, we find three main affective themes in their resettlement narratives: gratitude, discontent, and dissent. Together, they capture a reality we term the fragile obligation, which reflects coexisting conditions of migratory indebtedness, disappointment, and critique. Inspired by foundational work in Critical Refugee Studies and Asian American/Ethnic Studies, centering refugee affect holds promise for revising dominant scholarly theories of immigrant integration, assimilation, and belonging from migrants’ perspectives in an era of widespread backlash, especially against Syrian and MENA/Muslim immigrants and refugees. By identifying complex post-migration affective states like the fragile obligation, researchers can help build more effective policies and practices to support Syrians and other forced migrants.
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