- Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Asian Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology
- migration journeys and im-mobilities; refugee diasporas and displacement; issues of family, gender, and sexuality
Rohingya Refugees ‘Doing’ and ‘Re-making’ Family in South and Southeast Asia’s Borderlands
My current research project has developed out of my previous engagement and encounter with Rohingya refugee communities in South and Southeast Asia. My project at CSEAS is a forced migration study of family (re-)making, or ‘doing’ in the context of continued displacement and unsettledness. More specifically, I investigate the transformation of the family and gender relations of the Rohingya people in refugee camps and self-settlements along South and Southeast Asia’s borderlands. I ask: How is family as a social unit restructured in spaces of displacement that are defined by sovereign exclusion? Or, in other words: How does sovereign power affect the making of family through exclusion? Conversely, do refugees and their ‘re-making’ of family affect sovereign power in nation-states’ border regions? If so, how? I trace these questions among Rohingya refugees living along the Thailand-Myanmar border in comparison to those living in the Thailand-Malaysia and the Myanmar-Bangladesh borderland. All three borderlands are marked by violent conflicts and communal tensions, yet they represent very different spaces in terms of their ethnic and religious demographics and their socio-economic and legal conditions for settlement. The similarities and differences across these regions allow for a fruitful evaluation of how spaces of exception influence refugees’ re-making of family.