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History

Peter James Bjorklund

Thesis: The Karen People in Burma and Britain: Refugees, identity and memories.

The research will focus on the experiences and memories resettled Karen in Sheffield, Bury and Bolton and those currently residing in some of the refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. It is primarily concerned with the formation and production of their ethnic identities in the camps and in Sheffield. By capturing their evolving Karen memories and experiences of the insurgent war, their displacement and resettlement, the research will underpin their own changing ethnic perception, how the conflict shaped Karen identity from 1948 to the present in the personal and community memories. The focus on memory and identity is not fixed but historically shaped since there is a deeper politics of these historical memories that continue to serve as one of the main obstacles to national reconciliation.  Other aspects such as the renegotiated family dynamics with their new resettlement experiences through their diaspora will also be considered.

Supervisors

Expected submission date

  • Mid to late 2017

Research interests

Oral history: refugee histories; Burma development studies: Burma/Myanmar history.

Conference presentations

June 2014 on Karen oral history.

Additional information

I am aged 60 and currently employed full time as a network engineering manager for British Telecom based in Chester and cover a large area of the North West and Wales. As I possess very rare diagnostic and commissioning skills within BT the prospects for early retirement are receding as the company 'migrates' the legacy network to the 21st Century Based Networks and I get more involved with this migration.

My personal relationship with the Karen of Burma has been for over 35 Years as my father-in-law was born in Toungoo, Burma and was of Karen extraction. My proximity to this community led me to undertake a MA at Liverpool University and a second MA from Manchester in Cultural History of War under the supervision of Dr. Ana Carden-Coyne in 2010. I have visited Burma and the refugee camps on the border on numerous occasions, the last time being in 2013 where my wife sustained very serious injuries in a traffic accident which interrupted not only my research but my work and personal life as well.

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