This article explores the process of agency and empowerment through a case study of a group of young East Timorese asylum seekers who arrived in Australia during the 1990s. Using Bourdieu's concept of habitus and his theory of practice, the article considers how the asylum seekers dealt with the challenges of exile and adjusted to Australian society. In addition to the difficulties asylum seekers normally face in exile, such as limited financial and social support and coping with trauma and loss, the East Timorese who arrived during the 1990s faced particular challenges due to the Australian Government's treatment of their cases. The article argues that, despite their vulnerable and liminal position, the asylum seekers were not just passive victims. On the contrary, they were active agents who through practice, consciously or unconsciously, dealt with their liminal situation. Their power to act was positively affected by their young age upon arrival.
The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology Vol. 8, Issue 3, p. 235-249
This is an electronic version of an article published in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 8 No. 3, p. 235-249. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1444-2213&volume=8&issue=3&spage=235