Queer refugees occupy a marginal space within refugee narratives. They appear to be more tolerable for the hosting country as their queerness signifies modernity, yet they are excluded from the refugee community itself symbolising the clash of cultures. There is no space of belonging in the queer community either, that may often be racist and not receptive to the specific needs of queer refugees.
In the Australian context queer refugee are often associated with gay men being incarcerated in the offshore detention. Rarely, do we hear about queer refugee women.
My research is focused on the lived experiences of queer refugee women theorised through the lenses of trauma and empowerment. I look into the questions of identity, belonging, community and the ways women can live the life to the full potential considering the traumatic past on one hand, and highly politicised refugee narratives in Australia on the other. Under refugee narratives I mean the imposition of the refugee label that erased other identities as well as the need for a refugee to be ever-grateful to the country for the afforded protection.
I do this work using autoethnographic narrative inquiry as my methodology.
In this presentation I will be sharing a journey of working with queer refugee women, building our own community, collecting and listening to each other’s stories and using trauma theory as a conceptual framework able to encompass and theorise both traumatic and empowering experiences. In addition, I will be critically reflecting on how intersectional identities both empower and restrain.