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November 20 , 2008

Refugee Women, Representation and Education

Creating a discourse of self-authorship and potential


Even with increased attention to refugee women’s issues in the late 20th century, post-colonial discourses have nurtured limiting representations of refugee women, predominantly as subjects of charity and as victims. Adding to a growing body of work in the field, the author challenges this preconception by offering an opportunity for women’s voices to shape and influence policy, especially as it pertains to the role of education in the authoring of their own lives.

In this volume, Melinda McPherson centres refugee women’s voices in the educational policy debate. Drawing on interviews with a group of refugee women in Melbourne, she explores purposes of education, and asks what kind of society these women imagine for themselves and for others. Their critical reflections, personal experiences and diverse backgrounds offer a contrasting picture to that privileged in ordinary policy debate. The women require support, resources, and guidance; but they are agents in their own lives who bring strength, thought, and imagination to crafting their own destinies in a new country. Education is a pivotal tool in exercising that agency.

Throughout the book, discussions centre on why education matters to refugee women, focusing upon the integral links between education, civil society, and successful settlement, and conversely on the negative impacts of exclusionary practices. Representation and participation in education is a topic of critical social justice concern, and as such, the book will form important reading for academics, students, policy makers, and community development researchers.

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