refugees, disabilities, displacement, self-determination, human rights, disability diaspora


First-hand accounts of resettlement are seldom heard from refugees with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to facilitate a space for refugees with disabilities to tell their life histories, and their experiences related to resettlement. A global ethnographic framework was used to gather life history interview data from six refugees with a label of disability who have resettled in the United States. To better understand participants’ life histories, multiple theoretical perspectives were utilized including: critical cultural theory, critical race theory (CRT), critical disability studies (CDS), and disability studies (DS) which helped to interpret and navigate the nebulous intersections of the multiple and shifting identities of participants. Participants experienced multiple oppressions before receiving a label of “refugee,” and these oppressions took many forms. However, all participants disrupted these oppressions in various ways at different times depending on available resources. It is through these narratives that there is hope to change how supports for refugees with and without disabilities are conceived, delivered, and improved upon. These stories also offer insights as to how human rights in the global South can be better understood and applied in diverse transnational contexts.