Home » Publications » Vol. 19, No. 2 (2023) » Narratives of Resistance Towards Stigmatised Refugee Identities in Malaysia

Narratives of Resistance Towards Stigmatised Refugee Identities in Malaysia


The tendency to frame refugees as problems and threats has often fuelled negative attitudes among residents of the host countries towards refugees. This can contribute to overall hostile dominant discourses surrounding asylum seekers and refugees. Guided by narrative analysis, this article examines how refugees living in Malaysia cope with stigma through their personal narratives of the refugee experience. The topic is particularly relevant in the Malaysian context due to an increase in recent years in the visibility and the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, of whom about 182,780 are registered but have no legal status, leading to barriers to protection rights and assistance during their displacement. The narratives presented here provide some description of how refugees in Malaysia experience stigma and the ways in which they have navigated hostile situations. More importantly, the narratives display awareness of the stigmatised identities imposed on refugees and illustrate the range of narrative strategies available to refugees to resist and offer alternative ways of being. These strategies include blaming or rejecting the discrimination, appropriating the Malaysian identity, assuming the good citizen identity, and passing for another person.



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