Theses Doctoral

"Every day is difficult for my body and my heart." Forced evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Women's narratives of risk and resilience

McGinn, Colleen

This study uses narrative analysis to explore the question: How do forced evictions impact the psychosocial health of displaced women in Phnom Penh, and what sources of risk and resilience frame how they manage the exigencies of displacement? I use Stress and Coping Theory to frame analysis of the narratives of evicted women in order to understand their lived experiences and pathways of adaptation. Analysis of 27 interviews with 22 women demonstrated highly diverse experiences and divergent outcomes. I present a typology of post-eviction socioeconomic pathways because women's coping strategies and adaptation are deeply grounded in the nature and degree of economic harm that they experienced. From this context, I explore how women coped with their displacement. Stress tended to manifest in the form of somatic ailments and rumination. Social support and livelihood capacity emerged as key protective factors. The better-off participants for whom eviction tended to represent harm to assets, community, and aspirations typically exhibited a great deal of anger and/or anxiety, and they experienced forced eviction as a discreet, tragic, and even traumatic event. By contrast, those who lived in poverty tended to manifest depression, hopelessness, and passive resignation. These women spoke of their forced eviction as a terrible but somehow normal event within lives characterized by the exploitation and suffering shouldered by the very poor. I conclude with recommendations for policymakers and social work practitioners.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Burnette, Denise
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 18, 2013