Unravelled: A Contextual Exploration into the Weaving of Karen Refugee Women
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Despite a thirty year protracted refugee situation in Thailand, little data exists regarding the traditional weaving of the Karen refugee women from Burma. Through semi-structured interviews, participant observation and photography, this study explores the meaning of weaving for Karen refugee women as they transition from their villages in Burma to Thai refugee camps and eventually into resettlement in Canada. The analysis stresses the importance of context in the formation of meaning and purpose from weaving. The findings suggest interdependency between weaver, the weaving and context. As the weavers leave Burma, the purpose for weaving is transitioned from the making of clothing for community belonging, self-sufficiency, and cultural identification, into a means of generating income and filling time in Thailand. Third country resettlement continues the story of weaving further still, suggesting diminished purpose and meaning, leaving the future of Karen weaving uncertain in Canada.