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Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Fisher, Josh

Second Advisor

Young, Kathleen Z.

Third Advisor

Baloy, Natalie


Borders are places of contention. In the twenty-first century nationalism and xenophobia of the non-citizen are driven by the securitization and surveillance of spaces between nations. As the rate of crises causing people to become forcibly displaced increases, opportunities for migrating groups to access security across borders decrease. Resettlement, one of the only legal pathways to citizenship offered to displaced groups, is granted to individuals who qualify as a refugee -- someone unable or unwilling to return home based on a well-founded fear of persecution. In the United States, refugee resettlement agencies (RRAs) are federally contracted organizations that support displaced clients integrate into local communities by connecting them to core services. Service providers in resettlement are unelected political representatives for the clients they are contracted to support, acting as gatekeepers and social links to services, their actions and interactions with their clients reinforce or refuse the structures of violence and injustice they work within.

This project uses ethnography to focus on the subjective experiences of service providers (employees, caseworkers, and volunteers) and clients (those resettling in the U.S.) in order to understand the relationships between the personal and the political in resettlement. RRAs are operated by service providers who act as intermediaries between domestic policy and local practices. As the first point of contact for refugees in their new communities, service providers are integral to the resettlement process, how they understand their work affects how their clients are resettled. Inquiring how the individual effects and is affected by institutions is an opportunity to dissect the assumed aggregate of power and emphasize the avenues to redirect it for more just, and equitable systems in resettlement.




Resettlement, refugee, neoliberalism, faith based organization, colonialism


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Refugees--Washington (State); Land settlement--Washington (State); Neoliberalism--Washington (State); Xenophobia--Washington (State); Washington (State)--Emigration and immigration

Geographic Coverage

Washington (State)




masters theses




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