Displaced Selves: Older African Adults in Forced Migration

Faith Kilpeläinen, Minna Zechner

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Ageing as a refugee in an unsettled life situation increases the need for identity management due to dramatic life changes. This qualitative study, influenced by phenomenology, focuses on the stories of older adults in protracted intra-African refugee situations and the continuity and discontinuity of their identities. In line with identity process theory, we portray identities as situationally accomplished through the interplay of how one defines oneself internally and how others define one from the outside. The data, analysed by using abductive thematic analysis, consist of five semi-structured interviews with refugees in protracted refugee sit- uations in Nairobi. We argue that older age combined with protracted migratory experiences resulted in the study participants possessing a wide array of experien- ces, including many losses. These, including their pre-migratory experiences, formed a large repertoire of intra-psychic, interpersonal and intergroup coping strategies to rely on when reworking their identities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfeac046
JournalJournal of refugee studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Aug 2022
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Continuity
  • Discontinuity
  • Forced migration
  • Older adults
  • inter-African refugees
  • identity

Field of science

  • Social work


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