Refugees and National Identity: National Identity and Eritrean Refugees in the Sudan

32 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2007  

Kimberly M. Noronha

Centre for Policy Research

Date Written: 2004


Often fleeing from the administration of the very state they belong to, refugees present a unique anomaly in the current system of nation-states. In a world where ethnicity and nationalism, two essential components of identity, have been successfully tied to the state via territory, refugees are faced with difficult choices. Solution to the refugee situation focus on placing the refugees in a territory to which they can attach their identity in the form of citizenship. This paper looks specifically at Eritrean Refugees in the Sudan telling the story of the formation of national identity among a people exiled from a nation in transition. With Eritrea, the "war" was a clear fight for the right to self-determination of a people within that territory. This paper examines the existence of Eritrean wartime national identity and its fixation onto refugee consciousness through the formation of a three-way national myth focusing on the construction of the common enemy, suffering masses and national hero. In addition, this paper looks at the formation of social capital among refugees in the Sudan leading to the creation of civil society and finally the changing emphasis in land tenure tying Eritrean identity to the nation-state of Eritrea.

Suggested Citation

Noronha, Kimberly M., Refugees and National Identity: National Identity and Eritrean Refugees in the Sudan (2004). Available at SSRN: or

Kimberly M. Noronha (Contact Author)

Centre for Policy Research ( email )

Dharam Marg
New Delhi, 110021


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