Bronwyn Bragg

Jul 20, 2021
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography
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Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Ahead of Print. Drawn from 18 months of ethnographic research with resettled refugees living in a mini enclave in one Canadian city, this article explores what ethnography offers research with resettled refugees. By interrogating the process of securing ethics approval from the Research Ethics Board (REB), I examine the figure of the refugee at the heart of liberal projects aimed at “saving” refugees. I demonstrate that the REB’s reluctance to approve this project stemmed not only from conventional bureaucratic overreach related to ethnographic research but also from an unexamined and problematic idea of what it means to be a refugee. I discuss the gaps between institutionally perceived forms of vulnerability and the actual vulnerabilities that shape life for refugee women. I argue that vulnerability and risk must be understood as contextual and contingent, rather than inherent. Second, I explore the implications of positioning refugees as always already vulnerable on research practice and the value that ethnography offers for overcoming these blind spots.
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