• Adam Nils Naber
4. semester, Global Refugee Studies, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The purpose of this study is to shed light on the subjective experiences of separated refugee families awaiting family reunification to the EU. While a lot of the European public attention and research has been directed towards the increasing number of asylum seekers since late spring 2015 'coming here', a lot less is known about the implications of 'leaving there'. Instead of focusing on only one aspect, this research connects the here and there of migration as a three months multi-sited field research was conducted in Germany and Lebanon. Inspired by ethnographic research methods in the collection and evaluation of data, 19 interviews with separated families were analysed in order to look at both sides of separated refugee families – those who leave and those who stay behind. Not seeing refugees as detached individuals but rather as strongly connected members of affective systems, a family perspective was chosen to clearly point out how intrinsically the here is connected to the there and to understand what effects the rupture from the family and the familiar takes on separated family members.
Combining the data of the field research with the concepts of transnational families, ambiguous loss and social support, this study sets out to to answer the main research question: how do separated Syrian refugee family members experience and cope with the absence of the other while awaiting official family reunification in the EU? The results of this research are structured into several chapters with most attention being paid to transnational social ties and how separated families are able to support and console one another from a far by looking at instrumental, informational and emotional support.
Even though separated refugee families share certain aspects with other transnational families, they are dramatically circumcised in their choice of coping strategies to maintain familyhood as well as only limited predictability and degree of control over family union. Since official family reunion was not regarded a given outcome, separated refugee families had to face an ambiguous loss characterized by uncertainty and powerlessness. While all family members faced the same situation of an unclear loss, there was a significant difference in the ways the different family members experienced the absence of the other.
Trying to support one another at distance, most families were unable to provide the most needed instrumental and financial support as they could only rely on informational and emotional support to show some sort of involvement in the lives of the absent others. Feeling like having little in their hands to improve each other's situation, the least that could be done was not to worsen the other's situation by retaining unsettling news about the unsure prospects of family reunion or the emotional state, a strategy that was adhered to on both sides but with certain differentiations. The rather controlled exchange of information and emotions led not only to partly uneased communication but also caused family members not to be double but separately embedded in both local contexts.
While the forceful separation of families puts the family members already in a vulnerable situation for anxiety and worry, the lack of meaningful support functions at hand made the experience of separation even more burdening.
Antal sider69
ID: 237740956