Garner 2004). An-thropologist Jamie Saris (2004, i), in his foreword to Mark Maguire's book on Vietnamese in Ireland, observes that most political debates have focused on getting the categories to fit rather than a sustained r'flection on the cat-egories themselves. Similarly, my study, in documenting the ways in which the lives of Nuer refugees are more complex than categories used to classify
6 Nuer~American Passages them imply, seeks to problematize the means and criteria by which their suffering is "evaluated:' PSYCHOLOGICALLY DERIVED MODELS The orientation of the psychologically derived theoretical model of refu-gee behavior is illustrated in the following quote by refugee specialist Barry Stein: Superficially, when viewing refugees one is struck by diversity, a large number of refugee groups from distinct cultures forced to flee due to a wide variety of historical circumstances. However, scientifically, it is possible to develop a perspective that sees certain consistencies in the refugee experience and refugee behavior. The basic premise with which this chapter approaches refugee research is that there is a refugee experience and this experience produces what we can call refugee behavior. (1986, s; Stein also cites David 1969; Kunz 1973; Liu, Lamanna, and Murata 1979) In this approach, the social, historical, and cultural elements of the refugee's background are secondary to the experience of forced migration. Malkki soundly critiques this model ofthe "universalization of the figure of'the refu-gee"' (1995, 8) and the related depiction of refugees "as a social-psychological type" (Stein 1981b, 64, in Malkki 1995, 8). Refugees do not simply depart; they flee. When they are resettled in a third country they are said to begin to rebuild meaning, suggesting a void in which there was no meaning. Meaning in thi_s sense, therefore, alludes to notions of citizenship, territory, or homeland. This paradigm, in which the forced migration experience is paramount, portrays refugees as uproOted, denuded, and deprived not only of their territory but also of their culture. Culture seems to take on a material or physical connotation, as if it were something one could leave behind like dishes, cattle, or children. Indeed, the question I am most frequently asked by anyone familiar with the work of Evans-Pritchard, about my research is, what do the Nuer do without cattle? In contrast, as this study will show, the recounting of experiences by Nuer and other Sudanese refugees emphasize the continuation and elaboration of social and spiritual life after leaving Sudan, rather than the "loss" of cul-ture. This work, therefore, feeds into the expanding body ofliterature in which scholars assert that refugee populations need to be seen in relation to their sociohistorical context (see Indra zooo; jacobsen zoos; Malkki 1995). Within this framework, there is expanded space in which to appreciate the ways Nuer-American Passages 7 in which refugees are active agents in shaping their own lives. While many indicators suggest that this insight is now a virtual cliche or truism in con-
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