Amber Kale

Amber began her time at the University with a Bachelor of Arts but her interest in refugee resettlement saw her pursue research in Human Geography.

Amber sits at her desk and looks directly at the camera. Behind her, on her computer screen, is one of the paintings from her exhibition.

“My research focuses on refugee resettlement in New Zealand. I am exploring multisensory and emotional experiences of place and belonging, and ideas of citizenship, place-attachment, and social integration.

“To understand former refugees multisensory experiences of place and belonging I employ participatory arts-based methods. This enables me to get out into the community with participants and actively explore different places and spaces that are important to them.”

This research has been an excellent way for Amber to combine her interests in art, anthropology and geography. As part of her PhD, Amber facilitates painting workshops to provide innovative ways for participants to express themselves and share their experiences. These paintings are generally displayed through public exhibitions.

“This aspect of my research is hugely rewarding as an artist because I get to be creative and learn more about the individuals who I’m working with, but it also offers the opportunity to share the research with the wider community and challenge dominant perceptions around belonging in New Zealand and deconstruct negative refugee stereotypes.

“In the future I would love to have a career in refugee resettlement, either working alongside families and communities or perhaps in a more research or policy-based role.”

Amber has appreciated the support she has received throughout her time at university. “My supervisors and I have a great relationship and I always enjoy getting together with them to share ideas and chat about life. We have travelled together to different conferences and collaborated on several articles. I really appreciate the passion they display for their own research and the time and energy they invest in their student’s work.”