Lost in Transition: The Changing Dynamics of Traditional Nuäär Gender Roles and the Migrant Experience

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Kot, Bichok Wan (2018) Lost in Transition: The Changing Dynamics of Traditional Nuäär Gender Roles and the Migrant Experience. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study examines transitional patterns of family relationships in new cultural settings by focusing on the choices and challenges confronting a little known and vulnerable migrant group, the Nuäär of South Sudan and Ethiopia. It explores how the concepts of gender identification and gender roles, especially men’s roles, have changed within Nuäär families as a result of migration and resettlement experiences. The study uses a qualitative research strategy by applying a constructivist theoretical framework, which emphasises how knowledge is constructed through human experience and interaction. It also applies an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates perspectives from sociology, psychology, and refugee and forced migration studies to identify gaps in the literature and contribute new knowledge to understanding and debates about the Nuäär in particular and the migrant experience in general. The methods employed to collect data included focus groups, participant observation, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. A total of 44 men and women ranging in age from 18 to 65 years participated in semi-structured interviews or focus group discussions between April and December 2014. Participant observations and home visits were also conducted to gain insight into how men, women and family groups interact and cope with adapting to their new environment, and the impacts of this on gender roles and practices. The data was analysed and interpreted intensively using constructivist grounded theory to show how Nuäär men and women experience and cope with the challenges of changing gender roles in a new country and social environment. The thesis attempts to capture the dynamic and diverse nature of Australian Nuäär experiences during this community’s periods of displacement, transition, refugee life and resettlement in Australia. The findings reveal profound ongoing changes in Nuäär cultural traditions and particularly in the renegotiation of how masculinities are defined and experienced through resettlement, which creates many problems within Nuäär families. The research also shows the ways in which Nuäär men have been struggling with loss of the traditional status conferred by manhood, and their resistance to seeing their partners and their children depart from traditional Nuäär culture despite the transformations brought about by resettlement. The thesis also explores the significance of coping strategies used by Nuäär migrants in dealing with these resettlement challenges and the renegotiation of gender roles that this involves.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/37860
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Naath; Nuer; family; gender; masculinity; migration; resettlement; Australian Nuäär; constructivist grounded theory; cultural traditions; coping strategies; Australia
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