Karla Findley

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ledgerwood, Judy, 1959-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Asia--Study and teaching; Ethnology; Ethnology--Study and teaching


Refugees provide unique subject matter for identity studies as they are not able to continue living in their homeland. Refugees, instead, have been forced to abandon their homes, flee to a different country for safety, and often settle in a third country that is usually an ocean away, both physically and culturally. While concepts of identity are often easy to identify and maintain when a person can be continually surrounded by reaffirming objects, ideas, and people, what about when the refugee is not? This project endeavors to examine the resettlement process of Karen refugees in Aurora, Illinois, and how they fight to maintain their Karen identity. First and foremost, this project seeks to discover the actions, expressions, thoughts, and feelings of Karen identity as perceived by Karen refugees in Aurora. As part of the process of gathering, organizing and writing down the data, I also hope to give validity to those concepts and encourage the Karen refugees to continue valuing them and handing them down to the next generation despite their new circumstances and surroundings. Secondly, because of background literature review in preparation for this project, I want to provide more accurate data on how these Karen people perceive their history, contemporary identity, and the process of resettlement to add to the literature on the Karen. Thirdly, this thesis provides the foundational information that will result in a museum exhibit in partnership with the NIU Art Museum and the Center for Burma Studies focusing on the Karen refugees' life histories.


Advisors: Judy Ledgerwood.||Committee members: Catherine Raymond; Mark Schuller.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations and map.


vii, 172 pages




Northern Illinois University

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