Oral Presentation Session - Invited Status Awarded
Invited by: Council on Anthropology and Education
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Secondary Theme: The Political
Because of increases in global conflict, war, drought and famine, the estimated number of refugees in need of resettlement during FY 2018 reached nearly 1.2 million and continues to rise. In response, many European and Latin American countries have launched or expanded refugee resettlement programs, Canada has dramatically increased the number of refugees admitted, and Australia has pledged to increase its resettlement intake to its highest level in 30 years. The U.S., on the other hand, has taken a large step back from its role as the world’s leader in refugee resettlement. In FY 2017, the U.S. admitted fewer than 54,000 refugees and set the refugee admissions ceiling for FY 2018 at 45,000 (the lowest level since the program was established in 1980). The gap left by the U.S.’s significantly reduced role has not been filled (MPI 2017). Meanwhile, an explicit resistance to and hostility towards displaced persons (and the idea of demographic change) as well as a surge in far-right populism across the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union contributes to great uncertainty in the policy realm, volatility in the political landscape, and unease among immigrant and refugee advocates.
This session explores the theory and practice implications of such social and ideological shifts with a focus on whether and how anthropological investigations of learning processes, opportunities and constraints can yield insights, understandings, and dispositions needed to improve the educational experiences of refugee-background individuals, families and communities.
Our guiding questions are:
1. What do we mean when we say humans are resilient? What forms of adaptation, resilience and / or resistance emerge under what circumstances and with what consequences for refugee-background learners?
2. What can anthropological investigations of experiences of (and responses to) displacement tell us about the need for new forms of cultural understanding in spaces of teaching and learning?
3. How does listening closely to those who have experienced ethnic conflict, forced migration, or interrupted or limited formal schooling shed light on possibilities for social change? What methods of data collection and analysis are needed to help researchers document and analyze how complex systems work?
4. What spatial and temporal dimensions of experience shape the education of refugee-background learners and the practices of their teachers? What theories and methodologies are ideally suited to capturing such dynamics?
Taking into account the challenges and demands of the historical moment, this session explores how ideologies of language and language learning influence practices and policies in classroom contexts; the varied ways that school administrators, teachers and parents understand, resist or enact policies around English language acquisition; how resilience is embodied and enacted by a former refugee serving as an agent of change in a context fueled by anti-immigrant and anti-refugee practices (material and discursive); how distributed knowledge production promotes transformative participation among former refugees acting as advocates in a health care setting; and the value of incorporating African indigenous epistemologies into research paradigms that investigate African children and communities in the diaspora.