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Liminal spaces : changing inter-generational relations among long-term Liberian refugees in Ghana.

Hampshire, K. and Porter, G. and Kilpatrick, K. and Kyei, P. and Adjaloo, M. and Oppong, G. (2008) 'Liminal spaces : changing inter-generational relations among long-term Liberian refugees in Ghana.', Human organization., 67 (1). pp. 25-36.


This paper reports on changing inter-generational relations among long-term Liberian refugees in the Buduburam settlement camp in Ghana. Four months of fieldwork were conducted in the settlement, using a range of qualitative methods to elicit emic understandings of the nature and causes of changes in inter-generational relations: focus groups, individual interviews, participant observation, and diary-keeping by refugees. Various aspects of the refugee experience, in particular the strategies used by young people to cope with long-term livelihood insecurity, are seen by camp inhabitants to have led to a reconfiguration of relationships between older and younger people and even to the blurring of generational categories. There is a powerful discourse linking economic impotence of older people with the erosion of inter-generational relations of authority and deference. This is seen to have encouraged both a devaluation of old age and experience within the community and an increase in tensions between young and old. In response, some older people choose to transgress generational boundaries by adopting aspects of youth culture and style, while younger people express considerable ambivalence about their own ability to make the transition from youth to adulthood. We argue that the camp and policy context of Buduburam diminishes the ability of refugees to become full social and economic adults in their own terms, as well as pushing young people in particular into risky livelihoods strategies. This has important implications for the ability of everyone, both young and old, to cope with the demands of refugee life.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Refugee camps, Liberian refugees, Ghana, Youth-elderly relations, Buduburam.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:June 2008
Date first made open access:No date available

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