Layers of liminality: a grounded theory study of refugee women in Ankara, Turkey

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Approval Date: 2019

Student: Lara Schroeter

Supervisor: BESİM CAN ZIRH


The focus of this study was on how women cope with living in forced displacement in Ankara, Turkey. Using a grounded theory methodology, and focusing on women's lived experience, allowed for an emphasis on the agency of these women, while also identifying their vulnerabilities. Eleven women with various ethnic backgrounds from Iraq and Syria participated in this study. An important finding in this study was that these women all shared the common experience of living in layers of liminality. They had separated from their homes, and were prevented from reaggregation in terms of being excluded from legal, social, and economic structures. This was conceptualized as concentric layers of liminality that the women were experiencing, with the inner most layer a psychosocial liminality where the women were withdrawn from society spatial and socially, and experienced negative emotion such as depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. Though vulnerable to these layers of liminality due to their being a women and their displacement, these women engaged in resilience strategies to cope with and adapt to their situation. These strategies fell into two categories, one to exit the psychosocial liminality to varying degrees, and the other to settle in, and reframe their liminal position. The paradox of these strategies was that depending on various conditions, these strategies had the effect of helping them cope and adapt, or they could cause the women to cycle back into the liminality. However, the general result was that the women gained greater self-awareness and strength, and a regaining of agency over their lives.