Recent literature pays close attention to the ways in which gender mediates
the migration experience. In addition to showing that gender
matters in the migration process, this scholarship highlights how institutions
in the host society can provide opportunities to challenge gender
hierarchies within migrant households and communities. At the same
time, this body of recent works complicates prior assumptions that migration
is always empowering for women, by stressing how the empowermentdisempowerment
dichotomy simplifies complex processes that both enable
women to challenge patriarchal practices and deter them from doing so.
This article seeks to extend this literature through an ethnographic investigation
of the dynamic process of change in gender relations among Somali
immigrants in Minnesota, a Muslim African refugee population. Most
immigrant case studies draw from groups originating from Latin America
and Asia, the major sources of migration to the United States in recent decades.
Focusing on the migration experiences of Somalis offers a fresh venue
to further document and theorize the gendered nature of the new wave of