8: Sense of Belonging among Tibetan Refugees in India: A Case Study of the Bylakuppe Settlement in Karnataka, India

For over 60 years the Tibetan refugee diaspora are still residing in ‘temporary’ largely refugee settlements in India. Whereas older Tibetans often still feel a strong attachment towards their homeland, among the younger refugees, who were born in India or moved there at a young age, a more ambiguous and ambivalent sense of belonging is emerging. We examine their sense of belonging through four main topics, namely receiving society receptivity, social capital, economic integration and exposure to the host society. Thirty-nine in-depth interviews were conducted with refugees in the Bylakuppe settlement, and participant observation and photography also supplemented the interviews. The findings of this study indicate that young Tibetans are developing a sense of belonging towards Tibet, India and the West simultaneously – thereby arguing for a more temporal and comprehensive understanding of belonging.

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