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The role of trauma and cultural distance in refugee integration

Eva Alisic and Dzenana Kartal

Abstract

This chapter explores how refugees’ exposure to psychological trauma plays a role in integration, how this relationship is influenced by cultural distance between host and refugee communities, and what this means for individuals’ responsibility. Although many refugees show high levels of resilience, their capacity to integrate can be affected by exposure to multiple traumatic events and other severe adversity before, during and after their flight. Substantial cultural differences and negative attitudes towards these differences can affect integration efforts, including those related to supporting or improving people’s mental health. Trauma and cultural distance affect both refugees and host individuals, and knowledge about them should inform integration expectations as well as how we shape integration initiatives.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston