Volume 1, 2009
George Berguno, Nour Loutfy
A Phenomenological Study of Sudanese Children’s Experience of Seeking Refuge in North Africa
Forty-five children between the ages of nine and twelve years, who were forced to flee their native Sudan and seek refuge in Egypt, were interviewed about their everyday life in Cairo. Phenomenological analyses of the transcripts revealed the physical, social and technological dimensions to their encounter with a new cultural world. The interviews also revealed the extent to which the children had to face racism, discrimination and social exclusion. Specific analyses of children’s difficulties in learning a new form of Arabic and their involvement in play and games indicated that a refugee child develops his or her self-identity as a stranger by reflecting on particular confrontations with the new environment. Finally, comparative analyses across age groups led to the construction of a phenomenological-developmental model of the child refugee. Both the model and the findings are discussed in the context of Alfred Schutz’s (1964a) essay The Stranger, George Herbert Mead’s (1967) communicative model of the self and Binnie Kristal-Andersson’s (2000) psychological framework for understanding migration.