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Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  56 ratings  ·  10 reviews
How do people whose entire way of life has been destroyed and who witnessed horrible abuses against loved ones construct a new future? How do people who have survived the ravages of war and displacement rebuild their lives in a new country when their world has totally changed? In Making Refuge Catherine Besteman follows the trajectory of Somali Bantus from their homes in S ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 5th 2016 by Duke University Press
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Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This ethnography does an excellent job of providing multiple perspectives on the topic of resettlement, both highlighting the agency of refugees in creating their future and the often insular views of the citizens of the host country that take them in. I was incredibly intrigued by the way in Besteman presented commonly-held assumptions and then debunked them summarily, and especially in the context of the racism protests happening right now, I think this book is important in identifying how Ame ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story about the Somali Bantu refugees and all the challenges they faced before and after they came to America. It really opened my eyes to how much we truly take for granted here, all of our expectations when this group of people like many others that have seeked refuge here only want a chance to make a better life and just survive. The section that talks about the top 10 myths about the Somali Bantu refugees was extremely eye opening to me, I had heard many of them and didn't really ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This ethnography is highly readable and informative, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. There’s so much to learn from this book about refugee experience and the focus on a particular group of Somali Bantus settled in the United States makes it more personal than theoretical.

My partner is from Lewiston, and he bought this book for me because he knew I was interested in the background and details of the resettlement in Lewiston.

But Catherine Besteman does more than provide the details. She does
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc
Dr. Besteman writes a wonderful recount of her reunion with old friends she had met in her previous field work in Somalia and how those refugees are resettling in America. It's a wonderful story of how immigration is more than assimilation of the immigrants but rather how new communities have to adapt together to form new understandings of each other. This book tells a refreshing perspective on Immigration here in the U.S. that means a lot in such a politically tense time. I feel this book takes ...more
Haylie Davis
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this ethnography for a ruthless exposé on the contradictions of humanitarian aid/NGOs & details the refugee experience from fleeing a civil war that turned pastoralists into militiamen through to the xenophobic not-so-happily-ever-after resettlement process in America. ...more
Duke Press
"Besteman eschews social science jargon to tell her story with great insight and empathy. Her book should be required reading for policymakers currently debating what to do with refugees from Syria." — Nichola van de Walle Foreign Affairs

"Given Besteman’s unique perspective on the Somali Bantu community in Lewiston and her impressive scholarship on refugees, Africa and racism, it would be difficult to imagine any scholar having as rich and multi faceted a frame of reference on the issue of refu
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's an odd experience to read an ethnography the subject of which is the city one works in, many of the informants for which are people one knows. I would recommend this book, however, to anyone, not just those with personal ties to Lewiston, for it serves as a kind of handbook for how to stop "seeing like a state," and start "seeing like a refugee." And in my opinion, the latter will become an increasingly necessary disposition, not only for remaining humane, but for survival. My only quibble ...more
Jamie Dacyczyn
May 24, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish
Made it to about 76 pages in....and then somehow went weeks without picking it up again. I just got distracted by shinier books, I guess. The type size seemed a bit small and close together in this one, with narrow margins and lots of difficult (to me) names of people and places, so it wasn't as easy to read as the other books on my TBR pile that were beckoning to me.

I do still want to read this eventually, as the situation with the Somali immigrants in Lewiston is fascinating to me.
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Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A must read for anyone wanting to really understand this refugee society and challenges faced in living in our community in Lewiston ME. Catherine Besteman is currently an anthropology professor at Colby college. She studied and lived for a year with the Bantus (a name given them to help with refugee designation) in 1988-89 before the wars that made them refugees. She reconnected with some of these villagers in Lewiston after their 2006 immigration. An easy read book to help us understand the in ...more
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Feb 04, 2019
Karen Creamer
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Jun 23, 2020
Amanda Jones
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-by-women
Such a Worthwhile Read

This book is not one I would normally have chosen to read, but I'm so glad I did. It was so enlightening and I really appreciated the variety of perspectives the author presented and how accessible she made issues that are complex and nuanced.
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Jan 29, 2020
Amy Quirion
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May 08, 2018
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