In this dissertation, I explore the experience of Karen refugees living inside a refugee camp along the Thai-Myanmar border in one of the world’s most protracted refugee situations. This research situates displacement within theories of time, (im)mobility and resistance while also drawing on literature in forced migration concerning repatriation, exile, protracted refugee situations and policy development. A key component of this work focuses on analyzing the relationship between resistance and waiting by applying these concepts to the experience of Karen refugees who have spent decades waiting in camps while currently being faced with a voluntary repatriation program. I frame voluntary repatriation as a globally accepted durable solution to protracted refugee situations and as such, the preferred outcome of protracted displacement by the international refugee regime. Building on conceptualizations of waiting as an active strategy, I add both strategy and resistance to this concept in the context of protracted refugee situations, showing how I will further develop this theoretical framework through my own ethnographic work. Since my contribution to this theoretical trajectory is to make ‘waiting as resistance’ and ‘waiting as strategy’ central to an analysis of the repatriation framework, I will explain how holistic frameworks of return can guide effective policy implementation.

Degree Date

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name





Caroline Brettell

Subject Area




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License





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