Theses Master's

The (Mis)application of the Western Concept of “Resilience” to Non-Western Crises: South Sudanese Women as Case Study

Euber, Stephanie

This thesis involves an analysis of how the term “resilience” is mobilized and operationalized by groups and organizations that tout human rights as a main concern; I look to the relaying of South Sudanese women’s experiences to social justice workers as a case study, aiming to gain perspective from the women’s narratives of resilience. The purpose of this research is largely to critically engage with and question the resilience framework often referenced and taken for granted within modern human rights discourse. Qualitative research was conducted via interviews with eight individuals who have experience working with the South Sudanese population. Findings included five major themes: (1) the emphasis on social support and religiosity in South Sudanese culture, (2) a glaring lack of psychosocial services for traumatized refugees, (3) a trend toward pushing education for impact, (4) a leaning toward self-identifying as “survivor” among South Sudanese women, and (5) the futility of the resilience framework in non-Western contexts such as within South Sudan and the diaspora. I conclude that the resilience framework not only misses the mark when applied to non-Western contexts, such as humanitarian and human rights efforts have erroneously applied it to South Sudanese women and their experiences of conflict-related gender-based violence, but that the application of this framework in this way may even be considered to be a dangerous application.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Cooper, Belinda
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
July 15, 2017