Shadow Colony: Refugees and the Pursuit of the Liberian-American Dream
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Anthropology. American University
This dissertation is about the people living at the Buduburam Liberian refugee camp in Ghana and how they navigate their position within a social hierarchy that is negotiated on a global terrain. The lives of refugees living in Ghana are constituted through vast and complex social relations that span across the camp, Ghana, West Africa and nations further afield such as the United States, Canada and Australia. The conditions under which these relations have developed and continue to unfold are mediated by structural forces of nation-state policies, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the international governing body for refugees, and the global political economy. Situated within the broader politics of protracted refugee situations and the question of why people stay in long-term camps, this research is a case study of one refugee camp and how its people access resources, build livelihoods and struggle with power. In particular, this dissertation uses concepts of the Liberian-American dream and the shadow colony to explore the historic and contemporary terms and circumstances through which Liberian refugees experience and evaluate migratory prospects and restrictions.
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