The Triad of Transnationalism, Legal Recognition, and Local Community: Shaping Political Space for the Burmese Refugees in Japan

Authors

  • Susan Banki Tufts University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.21353

Keywords:

Japan, Burmese refugees, transnationalism, legal status, refugee status, community, politics

Abstract

Refugee participation in transnational acts – from advocating for regime change in home countries to strengthening modes of safe passage for friends and family to host countries – is only as effective as the ability of refugees to organize, collaborate with one another, and develop strong communication links between communities in the home and host countries. While many assume that legal status improves the ability of refugees to engage in political transformation, research on the Burmese refugees living in Japan reveals that the application and provision of legal status can have the opposite effect, weakening fragile community structures, stemming advocacy efforts, and discouraging communication between divided political and ethnic groups. I argue that transnational acts form a three-way relationship with legal recognition and local community, and that, because of conflictual relationships among local refugee communities, refugees from Burma with higher degrees of legal recognition in Japan do not necessarily expand transnational space.

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Published

2006-12-01

How to Cite

Banki, S. (2006). The Triad of Transnationalism, Legal Recognition, and Local Community: Shaping Political Space for the Burmese Refugees in Japan. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 23(2), 36–46. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.21353

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