Muslim Refugees in Serbia – Narrating Gender Role Identity Change

  • Nataša Simić Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
  • Jelena Vranješević Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
  • Isidora Ilić Psychosocial Innovation Network, Belgrade
refugee, migration, culture, gender role identity, narrative inquiry


Forced migration is a highly stressful event that can cause changes in identity work. The aim of this research was to determine in what way the migration and prolonged stay in Serbia, a country that differs from both the refugees’ heritage cultures and wished host cultures on many cultural dimensions, influenced the young Muslim refugees’ gender role identities. Semi-structured interviews with seven female and eight male refugees coming from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, staying for several months in Serbia were conducted. Narrative inquiry, focused on recurring themes and changes in the past- and present-time narratives about gender role identities, yielded three types of narratives. The most frequent narrative, Expressing what was suppressed, points to identical past- and present-time narratives, but significant changes in the way gender role identities are expressed and pursued, self-confidence and interpersonal relationships. In narrative Reinventing oneself a major shift in gender role identity was noticed. Narrative Remaining the same, reflects changes in neither gender role identities nor their expression. Most participants applied integration strategies during the migration and moved towards individualism, femininity and rational values, whereas a few, exclusively male refugees, retained traditional patriarchal values.


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