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22 April, 2014 Being a Refugee. Learning and Identity. A longitudinal study of refugees in the UK (Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books). Published 2011 Linda.

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Presentation on theme: "22 April, 2014 Being a Refugee. Learning and Identity. A longitudinal study of refugees in the UK (Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books). Published 2011 Linda."— Presentation transcript:

1 22 April, 2014 Being a Refugee. Learning and Identity. A longitudinal study of refugees in the UK (Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books). Published 2011 Linda Morrice, University of Sussex Refugee Stories: Learning to live in the UK

2 22 April, 2014 Research aims To capture the process of transition to living in the UK over a five year period -How individual biography shapes and informs the strategies adopted by refugees -What are the learning and identity processes at work

3 22 April, 2014 Advantages of life history and longitudinal approach Contextualised framework for exploring refugee experience - connections between past and present, here and there Refugee as a powerful and subsuming identity, displacing and occluding others. Life history decentres refugee Temporal unfolding of events – opportunities and set backs Witness the contingent nature of the self. The subject in process or provisionality of identity work (Plumridge and Thomas (2003)

4 22 April, 2014 Methodological issues with longitudinal research Scope for contradictions and changes in accounts – difficult to achieve analytical closure Relationship with participants becomes more intimate over time - unthinking disclosures Difficult to exit from the research and the participants

5 22 April, 2014 Working with refugees Prior experience of presenting and storying themselves Potential harm to themselves, their current situation or family remaining in the country they fled from Potential negative consequences to refugees themselves and broader refugee community Mindful of the context in which producing research and the purpose of research Experience of trauma Focus on practical aspects rather than emotional aspects

6 22 April, 2014 The power of the researcher And the trouble is that when we write about others…they have been brought (by us) to say it, and in saying of it their lives may have been changed. To speak of traumas hitherto unnamed …is to solidify and consolidate in words a kind of life. And for this – in a way - the researcher becomes responsible (Plummer 2001: 225)

7 22 April, 2014 Ethical debates and dilemmas Ethical framework or ground rules – informed consent, right to withdraw …. Day-to-day processes of knowledge production throw up moral, ethical and practical dilemmas Constant tension between different responsibilities – ourselves as researcher, participant/narrator, significant others (family/community/friends), the research (sanitised version?)

8 22 April, 2014 Learning and identity Movements across social space are moments of non-continuity – uncertainty, questioning of self, reflection and learning Transformative Learning Theory (Mezirow 1994, 2000) …the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change … (2000: 8)

9 22 April, 2014 Learning and identity A feeling of disharmony with the life-world - sense of disjuncture - remains the greatest learning need that individuals have so that they can return to the original state of harmony (Jarvis 2006: 78) Assumptions learning builds on previous learning, offers a more suitable frame of reference, generally positive leads to superior perspective (Mezirow) Adaption to new culture is developmental – sense of identity, confidence and self esteem develops over time

10 22 April, 2014 Enlarging the concept of learning Hidden curriculum (good learning) -Beliefs, expectations, norms, tacit assumptions and behaviours Realising what and who you are not (bad learning) -Illegitimate capital / little of no exchange value, expectations of habitus, loss of professional identity - social, financial status, respect. -Unlearning and identity deconstruction Illegal working and refugee identity (ugly learning) -Policy and public discourses: circumstantial law breakers, refugee label, morally problematic and pathological

11 22 April, 2014 Yes it was illegal, it was illegal. That's what I'm saying I'm not sure whether they didn't know that this was illegal because obviously they didn't even see my passport, but they still gave me a job. … Every day you thank God after every shift because you know because you've worked youre going to be paid for it…I didn't even have a bank account, I was using this lady, who I used to live with, I was using her bank account. She gave me her card, so I was using her card at the ATM…Not even anybody back home can ever imagine me or anyone doing that. … There's no way you can actually make anyone understand what you went through. There's no way. The lies that you tell, the anxiety, oh goodness, it was really… its funny looking back now and you think My goodness, how did I do all that, how did I get away with that? It is a very long time to wait. You don't want to go back there to being an illegal and having your boss there asking for your passport every other week or every other day. Patricia

12 22 April, 2014 I think it was a big worry if people asked me what are you doing here? What can I say because, like I am a refugee but I have got respect for myself, I dont want to be down in front of people… So I prefer not telling them why I am here and what for… They never say this refugee did something good. Everything what they say about refugees is bad. Savalan

13 22 April, 2014 As a refugee I felt you are living somewhere that you dont belong to. Especially English people; they are not very interested with communicating with…I cant say foreign people, its asylum seekers. What can I say…there is not a good perception of refugees, the view is not good of refugees. May be there is a definition of refugees as people who come to this country for benefits and unfortunately the very, very little cases its true, but we cant expand it to everyone. When I speak to English people the first question they ask me is When do you intend to go back? What can I say? I think English people trust the media. It affects people. Farideh

14 22 April, 2014 Learning to be a refugee Interlocking messages from immigration policy, education strategies and public discourses shaped the transformative and learning experience Learning involves epistemological processes – changing how the world is perceived, how they made sense of the world. Raises fundamental ontological issues about who and what they could be in the world Recognition of potential negative outcomes of learning on identity and conceptions of self.

15 22 April, 2014 References Bloch, A. (2002) Refugee's Opportunities and Barriers in Employment and Training. Report for Department for Work and Pensions. DWP, Leeds. Jarvis, P. (2006) Towards a comprehensive theory of human learning, Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society, Vol. 1 (Oxon, Routledge). Mezirow, J. (1994) Understanding transformation theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 44(4), 222-232 Mezirow, J. (2000) Learning as transformation, (San Francisco, Jossey-Bassey). Morrice, L. (2011) Being a refugee: Learning and identity. A longitudinal study of refugees in the UK, (Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books Ltd). Plummer, K. (2001) Documents of Life 2. An invitation to a critical humanism. London, Sage. Plumridge, L., and Thomson, R. (2003) Longitudinal qualitative studies and the reflexive self. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 6(3), 213- 222.

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