The Role of Identity Transformations in Comparative Victim Beliefs? Evidence From South Sudanese Diaspora


  • Michelle Sinayobye Twali


There has been a growing interest in the study on collective victimhood and this research has increased our knowledge on how victim groups construe their victimization relative to other groups. However, most of this research has assumed that the groups involved in these construals were pre-existing prior to the conflict and remained fixed during and after the conflict. This study aimed to examine how conflict facilitates the transformation of social identities (i.e., how ingroups and outgroups are construed) and how these transformed social identities are used by group members in their construals of comparative victim beliefs. Eighteen South Sudanese immigrants were interviewed about their experiences during the Sudan civil wars. Thematic analysis revealed two broader themes: “1) “who is ‘us’ versus ‘them’?” (i.e., identity transformation in light of collective victimization and privilege; 2) “what happened to us?” (i.e., construal of ingroup victimization relative to other groups). These findings demonstrate the complexity in how immigrant groups construe social identities constructed in the context of intergroup conflicts, and how these transformed identities are then used in their construals of collective victimhood.