The fourth life story in Finding home in Europe, a HOMInG book edited by L.E. Pérez Murcia and S. Bonfanti (Berghahn, 2022), is about “Once We Relax, the Door of Trauma is Open: Aaron’ Life Story”. Through this life story, Milena Belloni tells the life story of Aaron, an Eritrean man in his forties living in the Netherlands. While recounting the main episodes of Aaron’s life in his own words, the chapter elaborates on the concept of collective ‘trauma’. It shows how the idea of ‘trauma’ provides Aaron with a powerful tool to make sense of his own life story in light of a shared history (i.e. Eritrea’s struggle for independence, conflict, the progressive militarization of society and displacement) and allows him to re-establish the markers of his community symbolically and practically. Aaron’s attempt to establish an ethnic association for Eritrean refugees in the Netherlands is part of his attempt to overcome common traumas collectively.See the editors’ conceptual Introduction to the book here.
On the life narratives of home and homelessness among Eritrean refugees see also Belloni and Massa, Accumulated homelessness: Analysing protracted displacement along Eritreans’ life histories, Refugee Studies, 2022. On ethnographic approaches to home among displaced and “vulnerable people”, see also Bonfanti, Chen and Massa, Vulnerable homes on the move, Focaal, 2022, Introduction and Special Issue.
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