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Feeling at home? Former Bhutanese refugee women and girls in New Zealand

This article explores the meaning of home and homemaking practices for former Bhutanese refugees, especially women and girls living in Auckland, Christchurch, Nelson, and Palmerston North in New Zealand under the refugees’ quota programme. I examine how and in what ways these women and girls experience New Zealand as ‘home’ and explore their feelings of (not) belonging. The fieldwork is part of my PhD research and was conducted between February and September 2015. A total of 42 in-depth semi-structured interviews with former Bhutanese refugees were conducted. These were mainly with women and girls, but eight men were also interviewed. In addition to individual interviews, I used a focus group interview with four girls aged between 12-15 who sketched images of their actual or imagine home. The findings are that just providing a ‘house’ to refugees does not necessarily mean that they feel at home in New Zealand. Many participants reported that family is their home. Another finding is that strong neighborhood ties contributed to feeling at home (or not). Participants also discussed what it means to be a citizen in New Zealand. Finally, I argue that researching former refugees’ home and homemaking everyday practices is useful for understanding resettlement processes and senses of belonging in New Zealand.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Basnet, S. (2016). Feeling at home? Former Bhutanese refugee women and girls in New Zealand. Te Kura Kete Aronui, 7, 1-23.
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Waikato
This article has been published in the Te Kura Kete Aronui. © 2016 Copyright with the author.