The role of national status in refugee narratives: A case study on Palestinian and Sudanese productions

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The 1951 Refugee Convention recognizes two groups of refugees: one outside the country of his/her nationality and another group without nationality outside of the place of their habitual residence. However, because stateless displaced groups do not fall into the global nation-state paradigm, they are often overlooked within studies on refugees. As such, this thesis takes up the question of refugee memory as connected to place and the identities constructed through shared narratives, particularly those circulated through refugee-authored cultural productions such as literature and film. The tension between the status of the refugee within international law and the self-perception of separation from home are explored through two refugee archives: Palestinian (1960s to present) and Sudanese (2000s to present).

The thesis analyzes the role of national status in shaping refugee narratives and collective identities, taking into account how passing time alters a group’s understanding of its collective history and shared present. In particular, I explore how national status impacts each group’s displacement experience and the process whereby they became refugees—examining how these factors play a role in shaping each group’s refugee narratives. These narratives are further explored through an analysis of the role of class, education and historical landscape in shaping refugee memory, identity and cultural production.





Nguyen, Thao (2016). The role of national status in refugee narratives: A case study on Palestinian and Sudanese productions. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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