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Changing Context and Changing Lenses: A Contextual Approach to Understanding the Impact of Violence on Refugees

  • Brandon Hamber
Chapter

Abstract

Refugees can face a range of social, political, cultural, existential and spiritual challenges that extend beyond the impact of discrete events or direct psychological and physical harms. Such suffering can only be understood relative to and dependent upon the context in which it is experienced. Context is a major, not a tangential, component of conceptualising assistance to refugees. Hans Keilson’s approach of sequential traumatisation shows that interventions to assist refugees need to extend to understanding the role of the context over time and that past experiences are always reinterpreted through the prism of the present. Different community and individual processes (such as testimony and social activism) can create new contextual meaning for refugees. Changing the context is a psychological intervention. There is a responsibility on mental health workers and practitioners to find ways to change and influence the socio-political context.

Keywords

Refugees Political violence Sequential traumatisation Political trauma Social context Migration Psychosocial 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill ChairInternational Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), Ulster UniversityBelfastNorthern Ireland
  2. 2.African Centre for Migration and SocietyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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