Jordan, ‘Un/settling’, 2010
Sharalyn Renee Jordan, ‘Un/settling: a critical ethnographic inquiry into settlement by refugees making claims based on sexual orientation or gender identity persecution’, University of British Columbia, 2010
Propelled by fear of violence and flight from stigma, impelled by desire for connection and belonging, the movements of people whose sexualities or genders defy and offend norms cover a complex spatial, social, and psychological terrain. This critical qualitative inquiry was conducted in partnership with Rainbow Refugee Committee, a community group that supports refugees making claims based on persecution of their sexual orientation or gender identity. To investigate how Queer Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (QLGBT) refugees engage in settlement, I pursued three inquiry strategies. I wrote reflexively about my on-going participation in the support and advocacy work of Rainbow Refugee. I then conducted narrative interviews and collaborative interpretation process with nine people who had made sexuality or gender based claims. Interpretation proceeded through iterative reading/listening processes: a content reading, a dialogical reading, and a critical reading, and a reflexive reading. A systems perspective generated through interviews with community organizers and lawyers as well as reading media and literature informed the critical reading. This process results in accounts of queer refugee settlement that are situated and polyphonous. QLGBT asylum seekers have lived in defiance of social erasure, stigma, and threatened or actual violence in their countries of origin. Throughout their exit, migration, and application process they are in engagement with neocolonial exclusions based on race, class, gender and sexuality. Participants’ accounts of home country experiences, migration trajectories, application, and settlement portray how these iii exclusions constrain their efforts to negotiate safety and belonging, and create conditions for (re)traumatization. To settle, QLGBT refugees engage in seeking recognition that confers protection from homophobia/transphobia, and requires enactments of refugeeness and QLGB or Trans identities, while simultaneously resisting stigmas that work against safety and belonging.