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Return visits and belonging to countries of origin among young people from refugee backgrounds

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Global Networks

Published online on


In this article, we explore the return visits of resettled young people from refugee backgrounds to their personal and/or ancestral countries of origin. We draw on qualitative data from a longitudinal study of people who fled their country of origin at an early age, many of whom were born or lived for protracted periods in countries of asylum, and resettled in Australia. We demonstrate that return visits are not simply a homecoming; the young people's narratives reflect ambivalent relationships to the homeland experienced across multiple domains of belonging. Accounts of return visits refer to three core domains of belonging – practical national belonging, family connection, and attachment to material places. We argue that a return visit gives these youths a valued opportunity to negotiate and develop their homeland connections, though not necessarily an unambiguous opportunity to belong.