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Trauma as Displacement: Observations from Refugee Resettlement

Ehrkamp, Patricia; Loyd, Jenna M.; Secor, Anna J.

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Patricia Ehrkamp

Jenna M. Loyd


Trauma does not have a single definition. Within Western paradigms, across humanities and social sciences, it has largely been characterized through temporal and spatial dislocation. Critical studies of trauma, however, suggest that such framings of rupture, catastrophe, and mass displacement can obscure longer term and structural forms of violence, such as colonialism and gender-based violence. This article explores the displacement, emplacement, and transitivity of trauma through the process of refugee resettlement. It is part of a broader qualitative study that traces how trauma concepts and practices are mobilized in the process of refugee resettlement, specifically for Iraqis who are resettled in the United States. This article argues that trauma is neither a one-time event that is endlessly relived and reactivated in identical episodes nor does trauma emplace a singular geography. Rather, trauma can be understood as a set of serial emplacements and displacements across multiple sites, in our case transnationally. Apart from the distress and geopolitics of war, securitized migration policies produce trauma for people who have been displaced. This trauma of family separation, however, should not be regarded merely as an extension of war-making but as an additional manifestation produced by the global refugee regime.


Ehrkamp, P., Loyd, J. M., & Secor, A. J. (2022). Trauma as Displacement: Observations from Refugee Resettlement. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 112(3), 715-722.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 13, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 27, 2021
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Nov 15, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 27, 2022
Journal Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Print ISSN 2469-4452
Electronic ISSN 2469-4460
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 112
Issue 3
Pages 715-722


Accepted Journal Article (185 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Annals of the American Association of Geographers on 27 September 2021, available online:

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