Author

Huyen Dam

Date of Award

9-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Geography

Supervisor

John Eyles

Language

English

Abstract

The story of the Vietnamese Boat People in Hamilton is one that began in the late 1970s during the 'Boat People Crisis'. This led to the mass exodus and acceptance of thousands of refugees into Canada. The story of the refugees in Hamilton is about their journey from a home and their journey to a find home. There is a lack of knowledge in the current literature that explores the experience of refugees that emphasizes the nature of embeddedness, belonging, and identity through time in place. Previous studies on the refugee experience have primarily focused on the initial effect of displacement, relocation, and/or settlement. The purpose of this study is to contextualize the history and experience of the local Vietnamese refugees in Hamilton in order to understand their sense of belonging in Canada. Moreover, the objective of this research is to employ 'sense of place' as a theoretical lens in order to understand the meaning of home and self through time from the experience and perspectives of a refugee. Placing the study in Hamilton is critical because Hamilton has been identified as a significant city for 'secondary' settlement of refugees and immigrants alike. The approach taken for this study employed both case study and the philosophical hermeneutic sub-approach in order to frame the research question and apply a method of analyzing and interpreting data. The research findings allude to the significance and imperativeness of using multiple perspectives in order to understand a multi-faceted lived experience in comprehending the meanings of home and identity for the Vietnamese Boat People in Hamilton.

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