Australian Settlement Policy and Refugee Discourses: The Impact on Emerging African Communities

Doctoral Studies Completed Theses – 2014 Archive

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Se Gun Song

MPhil thesis, conferred 2014

This research examines the emerging discourse around recent refugee settlement in Australia and its impact on emerging African communities. Borrowing from Foucault’s power/knowledge and governmentality concepts, the research examines a number of social and institutional procedures, conditions and interrelationships that produce discourses in relation to African refugee settlement in Australia.

The research employs two bodies of data to demonstrate how a refugee discourse has evolved in the Australian context and how this discourse is employed and exercised to affect the capacities of small African emerging communities. The first body of data is the documentation of debates and policy decisions that contributed to the growth of a refugee discourse and the second body of data is derived from focus groups and interviews with key actors in the settlement services community. Based on the data the research demonstrates how emerging refugee discourses are manifested in the delivery of settlement services and in policy development. It analyses how the construction of discourse around refugees by the Australian public, settlement service providers and the African refugee settlers themselves has enabled a power relationship or strategic positioning through various tactics of governmentality. In other words the research investigates causes and consequences around the construction of a refugee discourse based on the theory that such a discourse is not innocent and always results in complex reconfigurations of power relationships.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Ruth Phillips