Caught in the Crossfire between Being a Woman and Being a Refugee

The Politics of Refugee-Camp Sexual Violence

In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies
Debra Bergoffen George Mason University USA Fairfax, VA

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Two crises of our age, refugee statelessness and sexual violence, converge in the lives of refugee women. This article examines this convergence by analyzing the meanings of refugee-camp sexual aggression and refugee women’s responses to it. Aligning Giorgio Agamben’s and Hannah Arendt’s ideas of refugee desubjectification with Simone de Beauvoir’s concept of gendered subjectivity, the author argues that refugee-camp men use sexual violence to reinstate their gendered subjectivity. In rejecting men’s demand that women accept their prerefugee, compromised subjectivity, refugee-camp women are rewriting the gendered subjectivity contract.

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