The settlement experiences of refugees from the former Yugoslavia


In the 1990s many mixed marriage refugees from what was Yugoslavia settled in Perth, Australia. A mixed marriage is one where the parties have different ethnicities. Using multiple-case, conversational interviews, the experiences of 12 of these refugees were explored. The processes of acculturation and adaptation, the development of social support networks and community, and their ethnic identity and ethnicity, were discussed and analysed within both the sociopolitical context of the conflict in what was Yugoslavia, and their subsequent migration. The initial settlement programmes and supports to the refugees and provided by Australia's government and community groups were also analysed. The results illustrated the diversity of experiences of the participants as well as shared experiences resulting from their being in a mixed marriage. In summary, the results suggest that settlement is stressful for the refugees, that community-based settlement programmes provide more positive settlement experiences than government programmes, and that people in mixed marriages experience particular stresses related to the political context in the former Yugoslavia, including a history of alienation and persecution. Theoretically the results indicate that the participants are moving towards an acculturation outcome of biculturalism. The complex nature of their ethnic identity and ethnicity is also discussed.


settlement, refugees, acculturation, ethnic identity, ethnicity, social network

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