'Right to rights' realized: agentive anger among Iraqi asylum seekers in Finland
Roche, Jane (2016)
Master's Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö
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Globally, over 65 million people have fled their homes in order to escape war, persecution, and oppressive conditions (UNHCR, 2015). Psychology research has thus far largely focused on post- traumatic stress responses that follow experiences of conflict and forced migration. Anger is a fundamental response to such experiences (Zarowsky, 2004). However, there is much debate as to whether anger is a normative or pathological response to both 'pre' and 'post-migration' stressors. EuroAmerican biases are prevalent in this debate, which may have led to the 'structural void' in the psychology literature (cf. Burkner, 2012). The current study aimed to fill this void by exploring the role of anger stemming from experiences of structural violence, specifically among Iraqi asylum seekers in Finland. Data was collected from a workshop attended by fourteen (14) participants, as well as two follow-up sessions with the workshop leader, and one semi-structured group interview with both the workshop leader and coordinator. Interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) revealed that anger was a site of 'exposure' and 'creation' (cf. Ahmed, 2004; Coole, 2005). In other words, not only did expressions of frustration and anger among participants expose obstacles inherent in the asylum system and Finnish society, but also oppression and structural violence. Moreover, anger expression was strategic in that it fostered solidarity and political consciousness (cf. Zarowsky, 2004). Overall, the results of the present study underscore the need to focus on experiences of structural violence, which requires an in-depth exploration of 'lived experience' (cf. Farmer, 1997), as well as transdisciplinary engagement (cf. McGregor, 2011). Similar research in the future will move the process of cross-'cultural' validation forward.
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