This research project seeks to discover how the Lost Boys of Sudan negotiate individual and communal identities following resettlement to the United States through language and narrative. I performed close readings of three memoirs written by Lost Boys of Sudan, including What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, a novel by Dave Eggers, God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau, and Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong. In addition, I interviewed four Lost Boys to gain a sense of their spontaneous, private responses to questions of culture, identity, and storytelling. Drawing on Homi Bhabha’s concept of “unhomely” and Clifford Geertz’s “stratigraphic layers of culture,” I conclude that as the Lost Boys encounter new cultural and physical homes, their public and private stories reflect the hybrid space between their past and present identities. This research brings to light the difficulties that the Lost Boys of Sudan, as a community and as individuals, continue to face as they redefine the meaning of belonging in both the United States and South Sudan.


Hayward, Jennifer

Second Advisor

McConnell, David


English; Sociology and Anthropology


African Languages and Societies | Ethnic Studies | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Modern Literature | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Lost Boys of Sudan, post-colonial, narrative, storytelling, hybridity

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Devin Johns