Feeling into Refugee Resettlement in Aotearoa New Zealand

11 December 2020 12:30pm — 1:30pm

Aotearoa New Zealand often receives international acclaim for its high-quality approach to refugee resettlement, despite its small quota. Our refugee resettlement strategy is also recognised for attending to important dimensions of life: self-sufficiency, health, education, housing and political participation, and is supported by cross-sectoral work between government and non-government actors. Despite these efforts however; and the formidable resilience and strengths of many former refugees, many ‘new Kiwis’ report challenges in adjusting to life in this country. They lack important social capital, suffer racial or religious discrimination, and find it hard to access and learn about Te Ao Māori.

This lecture questions what might be missing from the NZ Refugee Resettlement Strategy as it is currently conceived. Specifically, I consider the lack of recognition of the emotional and embodied dimensions of resettlement for former refugees in their efforts to build new lives here. I wonder how these may be connected to, or informed by, conceptions of participation, inclusion and integration. I draw on my own and others’ empirical research, as well as anecdotal reflections by resettlement support workers, to ask how bringing an emotional geographies’ lens to refugee resettlement might help to reframe New Zealand’s strategy and influence future practice in ways that better honour people’s lived realities, foster more belonging in place, and help them to feel more ‘at home’.

Presented in partnership with the University of Otago

Dunningham Suite, 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library




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