Smith, Kate (2014) Challenging dominant narratives: stories of women seeking asylum. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In the last decade there has been a growth in the number of women seeking asylum in the United Kingdom (UK), yet research remains extremely limited. Negative and disempowering narratives have come to dominate contemporary understandings of women seeking asylum. Taking a relational narrative approach and drawing on feminist perspectives, the main aim of this research was to explore the stories told by women seeking asylum.
Placing the stories of women at the heart of this study, I conducted interviews with seventeen women who had made a claim for asylum in the UK. Their interviews were recorded, transcribed and then analysed using the Listening Guide. A further analytical step was developed called ‘letting stories breathe’. Hearing women’s stories of persecution and sexual violence, I present four recurring, inter-linked and, at times, contradictory narratives. These I have called the narrative of resistance, the narrative of reworking, the narrative of resilience and the narrative of ruination.
I suggest that women, despite limited opportunities and restricted choices, do not necessarily accept the concepts and notions which have formed a basis for contemporary understandings about women seeking asylum in the UK. Furthering our knowledge of the relationship between stories and the narratives which frame them, I have demonstrated the active role women play in the construction of their own stories. Inspired by the stories told by women, this thesis contributes to creating a space where women seeking asylum can tell their own stories about their lives.

Kate_Smith_%3D0027Challenging_dominant_narratives_-_Stories_of_women_seeking_asylum%3D0027.pdf - Submitted Version

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