Accepted Paper:

Refugee women from Chechnya in Poland - heroine or outcast? Life in the conflict of traditional gender roles and being a research object  

Author:

Katarzyna Kość-Ryżko (Institute of Archeology and Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

Refugee women very often break the strong cultural taboo.After settling in a new place they experience conflict between different culture patterns. The very important role in the acculturation play researchers giving meaning to their lives and defining their status. This is a great responsibility.

Paper long abstract:

Events such as war, violence and exile forced to reevaluate existing indicators of identification based on local traditions and group affiliation - functional in culture of origin, but not necessarily in the new place of settlement. This raises a lot of problems which refugee women have to face in wishing to function efficiently in a new culture. The situation is additionally complicated by expectations of receiving society members who share some imaginations and ideas about them. The acculturation processes depends upon many factors but very important role play "intermediaries" (researchers, including anthropologists, NGO activists, journalists, politicians), giving specific content and meaning of the terms defining and determining status of the newcomers (not only legal, but also social, psychological and ontological). It's a big responsibility, effects of which can be observed presently in many European countries no matter of their ideological attitudes toward mobility and multiculturality. In my presentation I discuss the relationship between description language of refugee women used by researchers and journalists and the real consequences of this in their functioning in the host society. I also analyze the categories used by women in self-description. My aim is reflection on the role of the anthropologist in moderating public discussions and dealing with social pressure to express an opinion in line with the collective expectations. I exemplify presentation using cases from research which I have conducted during several years in the environment of refugees from the Caucasus, and particularly among single women with children.

Panel P003
Anthropologists between the Middle East and Europe: war, crises, refugees, migration and Islamophobia [AMCE]