The Rohingya Diaspora: A Narrative Inquiry into Identity

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Rohingya, Refugees, Diaspora, Cultural Identity


This study examined the key experiences and aspects of the life of Rohingya diaspora youth through exploratory Narrative Inquiry. Three semi-structured interviews were held with six participants from the Rohingya community in Malaysia. Responses were analyzed and categorized into three broad sections based on Cultural Historical Activity Theory: environmental impacts on lived experience, the diversity of sociocultural origin within the Rohingya community, and the impact of historical processes on cultural change. It was noted that the Rohingya culture is rich with diverse experiences and origins far beyond its current circumstances. Rohingya youth identify strongly with their experiences of life in Arakan and note that the younger generations missing this experience are less connected with their Rohingya identity. Beyond that, much of the threat to self-perception within the community came from external reductive narratives based only on their plight. In order to establish a constructive framework to support the Rohingya people, it is therefore critical to better understand them as a culture beyond their hardships.


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Author Biographies

Muhammed Bilal Fazal, University of Nottingham Malaysia

Muhammed Bilal, Fazal is an educator and researcher for refugee education initiatives. He holds an MA in Education from the University of Nottingham, Malaysia, and has also completed a BSc in Geology from The University of Edinburgh, UK. He has experience in teaching and curriculum design from primary to tertiary education levels across a variety of cultural contexts, including Malaysia, Singapore, Uganda, and Japan.

Kean Wah Lee, University of Nottingham Malaysia

Kean Wah, Lee holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from University of Lancaster, UK He also completed his BEd TESL degree from Lancaster University, UK. He obtained his MEd TESL from Universiti Teknologi Malayia (UTM). His other academic qualifications included Cert. in Education (Primary English, MPSAH, Sg Petani), Dip ESL (UM), Cert in IT (St Martin's College, UK). He has more than 35 years of teaching experience teaching at all levels of Education from Primary to Secondary and Higher Education in Malaysia. He is currently the Vice-President and Treasurer of PaCCALL (Pacific Association of Computer-Assisted Language Learning).


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How to Cite

Fazal, M. B. ., & Lee, K. W. (2023). The Rohingya Diaspora: A Narrative Inquiry into Identity. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 10(2), 203–226.



Original Manuscript
Received 2022-12-18
Accepted 2023-04-13
Published 2023-05-11