The Diaspora of Chin Refugees in Malaysia: Challenges and Coping Mechanisms



This thesis investigates the social dynamics of the Chin refugee group which currently faces great challenges in Malaysia, the host country. Modes of organisation and coping mechanisms are examined in relation to the specific legal and socio-political context. The theoretical concept of “diaspora” is used to make sense of processes of identity (re)construction and collective action. In addition, feelings of belonging together with the concepts of “home” and “homelessness” help make sense of refugees’ struggle to adapt to the new country. In particular, the thesis explores the extent to which Malaysia is or could be a “home” for refugee communities. These issues are analysed through the combination of participant observation and an ethnographic approach whose findings will be subjected to thematic analysis. The main argument of the thesis is that the Chins do not feel like they belong to Malaysia, which they consider a temporal stop on their journey projected to a third country resettlement. Furthermore, due to the collective trauma caused by discriminations in their home country, they do not wish to return. Their loss of “home” is, however, alleviated by a strong community they can rely on which provides Chin refugees with support and basic services.

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