Gendered ‘Return Home’:
Sudanese Refugees are Coming Back
The forced migration and conflict literature predominantly
treats issues of refugees from a gender-blind perspective. At best,
it focuses selectively on issues of women often in conjunction with
children (‘womenandchildrean’ phenomenon) treating them
as victimized and disempowered population and pays little attention
to the gender dynamics of refugee experience. Often referred to
as ‘vulnerable population’ women experience forced migration
and exile in a complex manner whereby their traditional roles, identities
and their position in the family, community and society at large
undergo transformation. Similarly, the experience of conflict and
exile has significant consequences for the masculine identities
and the traditional roles ascribed to men at home and in the society.
These changes can be traced back to the experience of war and conflict,
where often ‘war is increasingly waged on the bodies of unarmed
civilians’. Although in exile these changes partly reflect
economic, political and social contexts in the host country, they
may also endure as refugees return, with direct impacts on the development
and reconstruction of post-conflict societies.
This study examines the intersection of
gender, violence and displacement, and their consequences for contemporary
involuntary migration flows as well as the impact of these experiences
on the reconstruction of post-conflict societies. In particular,
through the use of gender analysis the study will focus on the experience
of ‘return’ of Sudanese refugees to South Sudan and
the impact of the returnees and their changed gender relations on
the traditional society back home.
Gender relations determine the social,
cultural, economic and political exchanges between women and men
in different arenas and institutions (household, community, the
state). Gender plays a central role in negotiations over societal
roles and responsibilities, access and distribution of resources
and enjoyment of rights for both women and men. Allocation and control
over resources as well as access to decision making are highly dependent
on gender relations embedded in both ideology and practice. I will
investigate gender through a social relations analysis and examine
how gender relations are deconstructed and reconstituted in the
gendered return of population and its impact on society back home.
Key Research Questions
||How are local gender identities (femininities
and masculinities) reconfigured during the time of conflict
||How do women and men cope with displacement?
What is the impact of the exile conditions on the gender relations?
What are the factors influencing changes in gender relations?
||How do women and men construct narratives
of home and ‘return’? In what way is the process
of return gendered? How do women and men experience ‘returning
||How are institutionalised categories of
‘returnees’ and ‘stayees’ are gendered?
What is the impact of changed gender relations of returnees
on these of stayees?
||How are gender identities and relations
reconstructed after ‘return’? How do changed gender
relations manifest themselves in the access to and control over
resources, access to decision making, division of labour and
enjoyment of rights?
||What is the role of outsiders in influencing
changes as part of reconstruction and development efforts?
Gender and Generations
Type(s) of Migration
Ghana / Africa
Katarzyna Grabska (FMRS)
||Extensive fieldwork will be carried
out within refugee communities in both exile country and
back in Sudan with those who have repatriated. The study
will follow a small number of families and individuals
as they embark on their journey home, as well as looking
at Sudanese who stayed behind in the country.
It will be further supplemented by interviews with policy-makers,
organizations which provide emergency as well as development
assistance in the country of return, community organizers,
politicians, and with academics and experts.