Refugee Politics in Vermont

This project was a study designed to understand the roles that political organizing and advocacy have played in the resettlement process of newly arrived refugees in the state of Vermont.  Focusing on the experiences of newcomers from diverse locations ranging from South Asia to Eastern and Central Africa to Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the project looked at the interaction between refugees, service providers and the broader host communities in Vermont.  With a particular emphasis on Chittenden County– the primary settlement site for the vast majority of refugees– the project explored the ways in which new refugees have worked to represent their interests with state and federal agencies, healthcare providers, employers, religious and ethnic groups, and the broader community at large.  What types of associations have they formed, what kinds of community gatherings have they created, and what community spaces have they been able to develop for use by members of a given population?  Given the historic lack of immigration in the state, what resources and services are refugees able to leverage for their communal needs and to what degree?  Is there friction between refugee populations and other potentially marginalized groups?  Using key informant interviews, community-based surveys, and focus group research, the project examined the possibilities of cross-cultural solidarities and alliances and analyzes the challenges of tensions based on race, class, ethnicity, gender, and language between newcomers and older residents.  The focus of the pilot study is on representation and power, and laid the foundation for a longer-term study of refugee resettlement and acculturation in a generally understudied site, the US Northeast.  A forthcoming book chapter on this topic will soon be available for download.