Displaced and Misplaced or Just Displaced: Christian Displaced Karen Identity after Sixty Years of War in Burma.

Shirley Worland (2010). Displaced and Misplaced or Just Displaced: Christian Displaced Karen Identity after Sixty Years of War in Burma. PhD Thesis, School of Social Work and Human Services, The University of Queensland.

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Author Shirley Worland
Thesis Title Displaced and Misplaced or Just Displaced: Christian Displaced Karen Identity after Sixty Years of War in Burma.
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Work and Human Services
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Yvonne Darlington
Dr Rose Melville
Total pages 312
Total colour pages 2
Total black and white pages 310
Subjects 16 Studies in Human Society
Abstract/Summary Abstract The international community at large knows little of the Karen struggle. They are much more familiar with the pro-democracy movement within Burma and the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It is for this reason that it was decided to conduct this research on the Karen – to make the invisible visible, the inaudible audible, the unsayable sayable to the international community. The thesis sought to explore the impact of organized violence, displacement and resettlement has had on the identity of a micro-section of the displaced Karen people – those professing to be Christian and either living in a displaced persons’ camp on the Thai side of the Thai-Burma border or having migrated to a third country under the UNHCR Resettlement Scheme with a special emphasis on Australia. The reason for choosing this particular micro-section of the Karen people is that, though not the predominant faith practiced by the Karen, the Christian Karen are a synecdoche for the Karen internationally. The thesis was informed by theories of organized violence, displacement and resettlement and explored their relationship to the central construct of identity. A transitional ecosystems model was used to explore the interrelationship of these theories and concepts for Christian Karen, displaced from their homeland by organized violence perpetrated by the ruling power of their country. Two studies were conducted. The first study comprised of interviews with sixteen people aged between nineteen and sixty-four living in Mae La Displaced Persons’ Camp, Thailand. The second study was conducted in Sydney and its environs, Australia and involved two focus groups of displaced Karen who had resettled in Australia within the last three years and ten interviews with Karen community leaders. Translators were used in the majority of the interviews conducted in the camp and in both focus groups in Australia. Interviews involving a translator were transcribed in both Karen and English and back-translated for rigor and trustworthiness of the data. One set of interviews was conducted in Burmese and transcribed in both Burmese and English and subsequently back-translated. All other interviews were transcribed in English. A thematic analysis using the general inductive approach advocated by Addison (1989); Strauss and Corbin (1998); Miller and Crabtree (1999) and Thomas (2006) revealed themes that answered the research questions. v The stories shared in the interviews resonated common themes that had impacted on participants’ lives and shaped their identity. They are culture, Christian faith, education, nationalism, oppression, displacement and resettlement. Each of these themes is a link in a chain that revealed insights into how the participants perceived their identity. In this way, the seven themes are intertwined and interdependent. Amongst the Christian displaced Karen, a dual identity was evident, encompassing a strong superordinate identity as being Karen (identifying as a nation) together with a sub-group identity rooted in their faith and community. Both seemed to maintain cohesion for both those living their displaced lives within Mae La Camp and those who had resettled to the third country. With the majority of Karen national leadership identifying as Christian, these findings lend an understanding into why they have maintained their struggle for recognition of their homeland Kawthoolei, in what has become the longest civil war in world history. They also have the potential to assist agencies working with Karen resettling to third countries to develop culturally competent practices by lending an understanding into the identity of these people.
Keyword Karen
Organized Violence
Additional Notes Colour Pages: 75, 92 Landscape pages: 308-311

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Created: Thu, 21 Oct 2010, 20:52:55 EST by Ms Shirley Worland on behalf of Library - Information Access Service