Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Pardis Mahdavi

Reader 2

Daniel Segal

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This thesis draws on ethnographic research carried out with a group of returned Sri Lankan migrant women who migrated for employment to the Middle East. This retrospective ethnography, based on their time working abroad, brings forth ideas of silent resistance and hidden weapons of women from developing countries, and intends to work against dominant discourses like the human trafficking framework which deems migrant women ‘victims’ of the system of migration, largely ignoring the agency that they exercise throughout the process. The ethnography argues that resistance and resilience are better frameworks with which to characterise the experiences of migrant women. The women in this study showed that through resilience, resistance and agency, they were able to navigate through an immensely oppressive system. They used resourceful and courageous modes of resistance within constrained social situations. The thesis looks at their experiences in the three chronological stages of their migration: pre-departure, life in the host country, and the return to Sri Lanka.


  • Best Senior Thesis in Gender Studies