Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Steimel, S. (2016). Negotiating knowledges and expertise in refugee resettlement organizations. Cogent Social Sciences, 2(1), 1162990. doi: 10.1080/23311886.2016.1162990


© 2016 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.


Interviews with both refugees and organizational staff in two nonprofit refugee resettlement organizations in the United States reveal the ways in which knowledge(s) and expertise are crafted, threatened, and understood in refugee organizations. Refugee-participants described the need for knowledgeable communication, barriers to the communication of knowledge, and processes of negotiating whose expertise is involved. Organizational staff participants described the duty of communicating expert knowledge, the limits of knowledge as expertise, and alternative communications of expertise. These tensions surrounding “knowing” in refugee resettlement organizations highlights the need for a more complex theoretical understanding of the processes of knowing present in refugee resettlement. These tensions also suggest areas in which refugee resettlement agencies and other nonprofit staff can make on-the-ground changes to better facilitate refugee resettlement processes.