Grandmothers Behind the Scenes

Subordinate Integration, Care Work, and Power in Syrian Canadian Refugee Resettlement




elder refugees, aging, subordinate integration, women, claims-making, mattering


Research and policy concerning the Syrian Canadian diaspora has not prioritized elders. This article adds to scholarship about the well-being of newcomers admitted via the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Initiative through a focus on grandmothers resettled within their multigenerational families. Using interviews and qualitative field research, we show how the authority and status these elder women once held in Syria may be undermined by their comparatively subordinate integration in Canada. Although new, post-migration configurations of power, care work, and community may present some opportunities, the burdens and dependencies of subordinate integration mostly constrain these elders from reclaiming their authority and status.


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Author Biographies

Rula Kahil, University of Toronto

Rula Kahil  is an Assistant Professor / Teaching Stream in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She can be reached at

Maleeha Iqbal, University of Toronto

Maleeha Iqbal is a PhD student in Sociology and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto. She can be reached at

Neda Maghbouleh, University of Toronto

Neda Maghbouleh is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Canada Research Chair in Migration, Race, and Identity at University of Toronto, and a Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study at UBC. She can be reached at



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How to Cite

Kahil, R., Iqbal, M., & Maghbouleh, N. (2022). Grandmothers Behind the Scenes: Subordinate Integration, Care Work, and Power in Syrian Canadian Refugee Resettlement . Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 38(2), 1–18.

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