Making a Life for Themselves: Gender, Identity, and Everyday Negotiations of Rohingya Women in Bangladesh's Refugee Camps
This dissertation examines the everyday negotiations, contestations, and strategies that Rohingya refugee women employ to make a life for themselves after forced migration. Based on fourteen months of feminist ethnographic fieldwork in Bangladesh's Kutupalong-Balukhali mega-camp between 2017 and 2018, this dissertation focuses on how Rohingya refugee women deal with the process of settling into the camp, negotiate marriage and other intimate experiences, adjust to changing gender divisions of labour, and navigate encounters with humanitarian aid agencies and male camp leaders. It pays particular attention to the emerging and shifting power relations within the camp and its impact on Rohingya refugee women's everyday subjectivities. Rohingya refugee women engage in strategic choices and bargaining to reconstruct their lives in displacement, thereby reclaiming agency and asserting their identity despite their circumstances. This dissertation thus suggests that refugee women's everyday tactics and contestations challenge and overturn deeply embedded gender ideologies regarding women's place in settings after forced migration. It uncovers the capacity of refugee women to bring about changes in their own lives through the spaces they create, inhabit, and reshape; the coping mechanisms they employ; and the bonds of kinship and community they forge.
1 Jan 2021 – 31 Dec 2021
PhD defended at
University of Cambridge, Centre for Gender Studies
Gender and Identity
Diasporas and Migration