Postgraduate Dissertation

Settling the Sacred: refugee & migrant women - narratives of faith, settlement, and acculturation.


While it has been estimated that approximately eighty four percent of the world’s population hold religious beliefs and adhere to some type of religious practice (Pew Research Centre, 2012), it has historically been neglected as a field of interest and study for development scholars and practitioners (De Wolf & Wilkinson, 2019). In 2020 the global number of refugees reached 26.3 million, and the resettlement and positive integration of refugees in third countries became an UNHCR global priority (UNHCR, 2020). The aim of this study was to gain a more nuanced and practical understanding of how religion interacts with the settlement and acculturation experience of migrant and refugee women in Australia. The research built on Berry’s (1997; 2005) acculturation framework and used an Arts-Based Engagement Ethnography (ABEE) approach. This facilitated the collection of qualitative data through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with six women from Zara’s House – refugee women and children’s centre in Newcastle. The study revealed that a diversity of religious beliefs and practices played a significant role in in the experience of settlement and acculturation. Not only is the settlement experience affected by religion, but religion is often affected by the resettlement experience itself. Religion is seen by migrant and refugee women both as an asset, and as presenting challenges (although not insurmountable) to their settlement experience in Australia.

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Gulbrandsen, Katrina


Rights Holders: Gulbrandsen, Katrina
Supervisors: Jordan, Zoe

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Architecture
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Degree programme

MA Development and Emergency Practice



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