In Search of Community: A Quest for Well-Being among Tamil Refugees in Northern Norway

Abstract

Over the past ten years, Tamil refugees have settled in marginal fishing communities along the Arctic coastline of northern Norway. This article focuses on social aspects of Tamil resettlement and on the refugees’ struggle for well-being. Tamils in these communities often experience diffuse aches and pains that are difficult for health workers to diagnose and treat. This article argues for the need to understand such health problems as embedded in social relations as they are experienced and embodied by the Tamils. Case studies are presented emphasizing that Tamils experience being misunderstood as individuals and as whole persons. This article draws a picture of a social context in which Tamils are stretched and pulled in different directions in search of community and individuality. The question emerges how best to understand the process of embodiment, which may transcend the individual body.