The Adaptation of South Sudanese Christian Refugees in Ottawa, Canada: Social Capital, Segmented Assimilation and Religious Organization

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Title: The Adaptation of South Sudanese Christian Refugees in Ottawa, Canada: Social Capital, Segmented Assimilation and Religious Organization
Other Titles: L'adaptation des réfugiés chrétiens du Soudan du sud à Ottawa, Canada : Capital social, assimilation segmentée et organisation religieuse
Authors: Lovink, Anton
Date: 2010
Abstract: This dissertation examines the adaptation of Christian refugees from Southern Sudan—primarily Dinkas and mostly educated—to living in Ottawa, Canada, not historically a gateway immigrant city. The discussion is based on sustained observation, documentation and analysis of South Sudanese refugees between 2005 and 2009, including 32 recorded interviews of adults, as well as a focus group held with young adults. It examines the findings through the lenses of social capital, with its focus on trust and reciprocity, and segmented assimilation to study the South Sudanese refugees’ integration through their most important groupings: ethnic, gendered, racial and religious. The study also focuses on the cultural, gender and language dynamics of a nascent South Sudanese-focused congregation and a related East African congregation. The experiences of Anglican and Catholic congregations with Christian Sudanese refugees were also examined. The research suggests that inter-culturally competent ethnic and religious leadership is central to the ability of migrant groups in the Global North to have enough bonding social capital to mediate the adaptation process and to bridge or link to other groups. First-wave, mostly male, educated refugees often have the inter-cultural skills and agency to set up effective organizations, but a continued focus on their region of origin, facilitated by the Internet and cell phones, makes a sustained emphasis on organizational-supported living in Canada difficult. While the values of many Sudanese-born women and their children converge with those of mainstream Canadian society, men living within patriarchal value systems, supported by literal interpretations of Holy Scriptures, face challenges, and the resulting conflicts threaten family cohesion. Both the denominational and the ethnic churches, in supporting new migrants spiritually and socially, are caught between denominational parameters and goals of ethnic identity, culture and values maintenance, made more difficult by the Sudanese not having a common language. The dissertation also begins to analyze the impact for recent African Christian immigrants of a culture that emphasizes individual rights, including the effects of the increasing presence of openly gay leaders in the Canadian but not in the African Church.
Cette dissertation se penche sur l’adaptation des réfugiés chrétiens originaires du Sud du Soudan, en majorité d’ethnie Dinka et scolarisés, vivant à Ottawa, Canada. Les résultats de la recherche sur 5 ans suggèrent qu’une gestion adéquate des dynamiques ethniques et religieuses au niveau interculturel est capitale dans la capacité des groupes de migrants dans les pays développés pour générer suffisamment de capital social et faciliter le processus d’adaptation pour se lier à d’autres groupes. Les églises confessionnelles et les églises ethniques, en aidant les immigrants spirituellement et socialement, sont coincées entre des paramètres confessionnels et des objectifs d’identification ethnique, de maintien de valeurs et de culture, compliqués par l’absence d’une langue commune parmi les Soudanais. Cette dissertation tente aussi d’analyser l’impact pour les immigrants africains de fraîche date, d’une culture qui valorise les droits individuels, y compris l’émergence de chefs de file ouvertement homosexuels dans les églises canadiennes mais non dans les églises africaines.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/19579
CollectionThèses, 2009 - // Theses, 2009 -
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