Faculty Publications

Resettlement Divorce: The Hidden Costs Of Family Separation During Refugee Resettlement

Document Type



family, global and transnational sociology, human rights, international migration

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Social Currents


Refugee resettlement is a solution to provide safety and security to individuals left vulnerable from displacement. However, some refugees who intermarry with non-refugees are barred from resettling with their intact family unit. This article utilizes an in-depth ethnographic analysis of the everyday life of refugees in mixed nationality marriages living in Nepal to argue that the right to family unity is denied to some refugees. Refugees in mixed-nationality marriages must choose between divorcing a loving and stable partner to resettle in a third country and remaining encamped in Nepal, where opportunities for safety, security, and advancement are severely limited. This analysis indicates that “resettlement divorces” became a way that mixed-marriage refugee couples managed to navigate the offer of resettlement for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and the ways that resettlement structured their everyday lives. Implications exist for interrogating which families are granted the right to “unity,” patterns of refugee resettlement, and the resettlement outcomes of single refugee mothers.


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version