Researching Multilingually: 25-26th April 2012Louise Bowen, Department of Education, University of the West of England Andrina.Bowen@uwe.ac.uk
Intro Research design: Methods and language Giving voice? Words from David Discussion
Research design Research aim: explore experiences of higher education within everyday lives of refugee students 10 participants- cultural diversity / different stages in HE studies Interviews academic year 2010-2011 Photo/written diaries Online forum Emergent methodology Sought to engage participants as co-researchers Methods chosen to recognise cultural and linguistic diversity
Giving voice? Questioning authority of interpretation (Mazzei, 2009; Fine, 1992, 1994), lack of ‘textual innocence’ (Lather, 2007; Bhabha,2004) “Voices can be used to accomplish a subtler form of ventriloquism. Within such texts, while researchers appear to let the Other speak, just under the covers of those marginal—if now “liberated” voices—we hide, unproblematical” (Fine, 1992)
Reflexivity? Where am I in our interviews? When did I ‘push’ a refugee subjectivity? What interpretations do I favour? What do I do about that if/when I notice it? “under the surface of…scholarly analysis and description of other races, peoples, or groups . . . we find a powerful ideological layer of self-interest, in-group favoritism, and ethnocentrism” (Van Dijk, 1993: 160 in Shome, 1996: 46)
David Obviously for myself coming from Africa to England I didn’t have any connections, I didn’t know any one in the industry, so the best possible way was through the University and that was the biggest link. Was there ever any point at all when you thought that legal status, refugee status, had any other impact upon your engagement in what you were doing with your university studies? not only myself, but obviously within the social networking of people that I deal with, asylum seekers and refugees… I find it very, very difficult, because in my field or the industry that I am in everybody is treated equally, nobody asks you where you are coming from… But discussing with various other people, they find the label is kind of like a stereotype and whether it is just the mentality of people- just accepting the way it is or whether they are stereotyping themselves- is another issue that I don’t know.
I wondered if, for you, that status, refugee, if didn’t have any impact on yourUniversity decisions and experiences, or, if it was something that came up indiscussions with other people as you were going about your course of study ?So I found it very difficult, but personally didn’t have any kind of thoughtabout being a refugee or an asylum seeker or the piece of paper that sayswhatever. I’m still a human being, this is the circumstances I found myself tobe in. It’s either I accept it, and the people I am dealing with or that I amtalking with in my social networks at the University- everybody around meaccepts it as it is. If they don’t accept it then tough luck, that’s the way it is.Maybe I just blocked it and said “I’m not going to be thinking about all thislabel thing because that’s not what I am, this is the circumstance” . So maybethat’s what came to me and it never really bothered me.
And then someone phones you up and says “will you be part of thisresearch project?”It’s good because obviously it is not only myself, I deal with other peopleand they feel like, they fill in a form and it asks “are you an asylumseeker?” and they feel like “is it because I am claiming benefits or…” allthose kinds of things come out and one thing that I set out, once I goteverything authorised, is I didn’t even go for the student finance for myfirst degree. I was working and I was paying for it. I wanted todistinguish myself from that benefit culture of getting student loans andfinances and all that kind of stuff. So I was working and whatever Iwould get I would pay for my fees, so I don’t have a student loan, I don’thave anything.
Discussion Exploring limits of methods and design- have ‘failed’ methods contributed something? What are the limits and location of my questions and silences? What does this mean with regard to knowing about refugee experiences of HE? education is a space in which refugee people may retreat from their position as Other, but at the cost of refugee-ness becoming silenced (Mosselson, 2011:5) Complexity of identifying with/ resistance to ‘refugee-ness’- making audible the ambivalent voice.
ReferencesBhabha, H. (2004) The Location of Culture. Abingdon: RoutledgeFine, M.(Ed.) (1992) Disruptive voices: The possibilities of feminist research. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Lather, P. (2007) Getting Lost: Feminist efforts towards a double(d) science. Albany: State University of New York Press.Mazzei, L.A. (2009) An impossibly full voice. In: Jackson, A.Y and Mazzei, L.A.,Eds., (2009) Voice in Qualitative Inquiry.Abingdon: Routledge, pp.47-62Mosselson, J. (2011) Conflict, Education and Identity: Resettled youth in the United States. Conflict & Education, 1(1) [online][Accessed at http://conflictandeducation.org/?p=126 ]Shome,R. (1996 )Postcolonial Interventions in the Rhetorical Canon: An “Other” View . Communication Theory, 6(1) pp 40-59Van dijk, T. A. (1993). Elite discourse and racism. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Acknowledgement: This research is sponsored by an ESRC studentship.E: Andrina.Bowen@uwe.ac.uk