PhD Candidate, York University
This literature review highlights migration and refugee research engaged with intersectionality as a critical framework that challenges homogenizing experiences and categories in the global refugee context. Intersectionality seeks to enable the analysis of multiple experiences, recognize multiple and fluid identities that are context dependent, and demonstrate how such identities intersect to create disadvantages as well as privileges for different individuals. An intersectionality framework has the potential reveal the systematic discrimination in refugee and migration policies and systems, point to disparities in accessing durable solutions, highlight oppression as well as emancipation due to refugee-ness, and challenge rigid labels and categories. After recognizing the gender blindness in the 1951 Refugee Convention, a growing number of international and domestic policies began paying more attention to refugee women and gender-based violence. One prominent example is the UNHCR’s Age, Gender and Diversity policy, which aims to consider the implications of policies and programs for male and female refugees of different ages and from different social groups. Feminist scholarship has offered important insights into the lived experiences of refugee women. Critical literature within refugee studies has questioned the ability of the “refugee” label and other categories to capture the complex social realities of the people on the move, instead engaging with how refugees self-identify and define their own situations. Decolonial approaches explore new methodologies (such as community-based participatory research) and the power dynamics inherent in North-South research partnerships that often reproduce hierarchies. Overall, an intersectional approach highlights that “refugees” are a diverse group and refugee experiences are shaped by multiple identities such as gender, race, national origin, class, age, (dis)ability and sexual orientation. Refugee policies and programs must be flexible to take into account this diversity of experiences instead of applying a singular universal approach for all refugees.