From a Shattered Self to an Integrated Self

Analysing Autobiographies of People who Experienced Refugee Situations


  • Sofia Noori UBC


This paper analyzes a selection of publicly available autobiographical accounts of Canadians with lived refugee experiences to explore the idea of an integrated identity. The theory of identity in this paper draws on Homi Bhabha’s theory of hybridization. The stories of youth with refugee experience show that xenophobic and racist encounters in the host state have a shattering effect and force them to reconsider their identity. This triggered state could be, and often is, mitigated by constructing a hybridized identity in a neo-third space. The neo-third space is the working through of the shattered self, which involves critical self-reflection, examining the place of the questioned identity marker. By moving away from binary understandings of subjectivity, neo-third space and the refugee subject engages in the decolonization of identity. Biographical accounts provide deep insight as to how the neo-third space operates for refugee youth through artistic expression via storytelling and songwriting. Cultural production becomes a tangible manifestation of the neo-third space for healthier and successful Canadians with lived refugee experiences.