Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Hans Buechler

Second Advisor

A. Peter Castro


The purpose of this anthropological research is to examine and analyze the intertwined geopolitical complexities of the lived sexual, reproductive, and maternal health and healthcare experiences of female Congolese refugees in flight. These experiences are examined at three pivotal points of refugee flight: during protracted conflict and violence, in displacement, generally in neighboring East African countries, and during resettlement in Western contexts. Data were collected using two anthropological methodologies - targeted life history interviews and semi-structured qualitative ethnographic interviews. Supplemental data from related studies, reports, and literature reviews were also used for population-level information. Collected data were analyzed through the lenses of political economy, structural violence, and cultural hegemony.

Using these frames of analysis, this research brings new insights to the interdisciplinary fields of refugee and migration studies with particular emphasis on the cultural and social considerations in a political economy lens of analysis. More specifically, it brings new insights to enhance the efficacy, sustainability, and subject-focused nature of East African refugee maternalhealth and healthcare policies. I argue that such policy enhancement must be led by the voices, experiences, and histories of those they are meant to serve - Congolese refugee women. Moreover, I suggest that this approach be protected and funded by a multilateral coalition of refugee-focused women’s health and healthcare agencies and initiatives at the grassroots to the global scale. Thus, an overarching goal of this research is to contribute to the decolonization of the Western-centric knowledge and power structures at play in the institutions and organizations meant to support the health and healthcare of Congolese refugee women and refugee women in general.


Open Access