This paper engages with the experiences of refugee teachers through an identity-based conceptualisation of the capability approach to explore these teachers’ social environment, working conditions, values, and lived experiences. The research builds on the teachers’ capabilities literature to argue that norms, dynamics, and identities shape their political agency, opportunities, and constraints, providing nuanced understandings of their experiences as refugee teachers. Our aim is to narrate how they negotiate across different identities and mobilise their agency to be able to function as teachers and fit within their host countries. In doing so, we not only challenge the deficit model and oversimplified challenges experienced by teachers, but also explore the complexity and nuances of their journey of becoming and developing a teacher identity as a refugee under constrained working conditions. At the same time, teachers relentlessly build on their precarious teacher identities to work for their communities. The findings show that teachers build liminal identities in exile where the boundary between being a refugee and a teacher is simultaneously contested and embodied, but also key to their political agency and subjectivity of creating change. © 2023 Human Development and Capability Association.

DOI: 10.1080/19452829.2023.2227108
ISSN: 19452829