Posted: June 21st, 2021

Belonging: Decision Theory and Refugee

Is belonging really a choice? Can this statement apply to every experience related to belonging? Like the refugee experience? Does a refugee choose to belong or not belong? Good afternoon Ms Freckman and Ms Williamson. Belonging is a sense of connection to people, places and the larger world. Not belonging is a lack of connection to these things. But there are often barriers to belonging were people do not have the choice to belong or not belong.
This understanding shows that belonging is not as black and white as simply choosing to belong or not belong. “Scattered People” is a photograph documentary by Cassandra Mathie that documents this idea. It consists of 3 series’ of black and white photographs, each series depicts a different refugee’s story about belonging in Australia. Each series contains 6 photographs and each photograph is accompanied by a quote from the refugee.
The refugees are “scattered” because they all struggle to belong to where they have come from and where they are now. The second series captures the story of a Sri Lankan refugee who is prevented from belonging by the Australian government and is faced with the loss of choice in belonging. These themes of prevention and loss of choice in belonging communicates the idea, belonging is not as black and white as simply choosing to belong or not belong. To understand this idea of belonging we can analyse a quote given to us by the refugee.

She says, “I have come here to ask for protection and like to get freedom because in my country I can’t live as my name, as my person… still I haven’t heard a decision if they decide i am a refugee yet… ”. She has used the verbs “can’t”, “haven’t” and “yet”. They have strong negative connotations, highlighting the fact she is prevented from belonging. Strong nouns like “prevention”, “freedom” and “decision” are also used to express she has lost her choice in belonging.

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