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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Young Women Refugees in the United States: Hope Against Hope

Roberta Fiske-Rusciano.

Having survived horrific wars, refugee camps and being held hostage, these women from three different continents have a special knowledge to share with the rest of the world. Fatima of Bosnia, Naheed of Afghanistan, and Elisabeth of Sierra Leone, are all students in the U.S. and now, reflect upon their traumas, their present situations and their hopes for the future. All three expect to work for civil rights in some fashion, and find hope in the strength of global human rights ideals. There is a deep tension in their testimonies: between having a great faith in humanity, and having seen firsthand, the immeasurable brutality of which we are capable. The analysis is primarily based upon several hours of interviews with the three informants, focusing upon ethnographic details, that help the reader understand the world-view of each woman, and to appreciate her experiences and knowledge as she presents them. Furthermore, the status of being a refugee or asylee in the U.S. shifted after the September 11th attacks. The paradox of being the "Other" within ones own community, has followed them from their country of origin to their new home in the U.S.


Roberta Fiske-Rusciano  (United States)
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Rider University

Roberta Fiske-Rusciano (Ph.D, Rutgers University) is an adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science, Multicultural Studies, and Gender Studies at Rider University. Her work includes an ethnographic analysis of women and national identity in Germany, analyses of world opinion, and a study of refugee women from war-torn areas. Her articles have appeared in The American Anthropologist, The International Journal of Public Opinion Research, The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, and in books published by Salem Press and the United States Library of Congress. She is presently working on an edited book of writings on issues of gender, race, class, and ethnicity in the United States.

  • Refugee women
  • Gender and war
  • Identity formation

(30 min Conference Paper, English)