An Anthropological Journey of Belonging: Somali Women Re-Imagine Home in Wellington, New Zealand
This thesis provides insights into refugee-background Somali women’s active productions of belonging in New Zealand, after resettlement in Wellington communities. It explores how Somali women actively negotiate belonging between three key processes: place, identity and acceptance. It does this by situating their resettlement in the context of the Somali civil conflict. I argue that home in New Zealand is based on emotional and physical attachments to multiple locales across space and time, as enacted and embodied through performances of ‘Somali woman’ identities across social fields. I show how intersectional differences produce diverse experiences of re-imagining home, and the ways that a ‘Somali woman’ identity is changing through the actions of ‘edgewalking’ participants. It also explores how belonging is a two-sided process that is affected by discourses of tolerance in New Zealand. This thesis is structured through both anthropological and feminist frameworks and thus emphasises the voices and positions of the participants at all times. The understandings presented here unfolded from interviews with eight participants, four Somali women and four non-Somalis who had extensive connections with the Somali community. Using the stories from these eight participants, this thesis demonstrates the importance of the homeland, Somaliness and tolerance in creating a sense of belonging in Wellington communities after resettlement processes.