Providing Rights Through Individual Compassion: The ambivalent rights talk within refugee resettlement work



The article analyses the social constructions of rights as they come about through Swedish delegations preparing refugees for resettlement in Sweden, under the Cultural Orientation Programme (COP). COPs are analysed as an activity that manifests a need to convey rights. Fieldwork was conducted through video observations of COPs in Kenya and Sudan. Our empirical findings show how the Swedish officials engage in talks about rights through positioning the refugees as unaware of, and incapable of, claiming rights. Rights are also highlighted as obligations with correct ways of realising them. This study manifests the clash between rights as universal and rights tied to citizenship where, during COPs, rights are conveyed as particularly Swedish, positioning the refugees on a receiving end of the conversations. However, the study also shows how the participants do make claims, sometimes resisting the hierarchies during the talks.


ResettlementrefugeesSwedenCultural orientation programmeHuman rights
  • Year: 2016
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 3
  • Page/Article: 140-147
  • DOI: 10.1515/njmr-2016-0019
  • Published on 1 Aug 2016
  • Peer Reviewed