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This paper examines how traditional discourses on repatriation and the return home have developed, whether they are accurate or appropriate, and subsequently suggests alternative perspectives on return (Black and Koser 1999). In particular, this paper focuses on the resettlement of internally displaced Sri Lankan women to their native villages, and argues that despite physical return, a “generalized condition of homelessness” (Malkki 1992: 37) persists due to physical, social and political forms of violence which obstruct the ability of many women to return ‘home’. It contends that for many Sri Lankan women, resettlement has meant merely the return to their geographical place of origin, and no more. More generally, this paper argues that both scholars of forced migration and the international humanitarian community are working amidst a conceptual framework that has yet to truly comprehend the complexity of experiences involved in return and reintegration.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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