Dissertation (PhD)

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Educators’ interactions with refugee pupils: knowledge, attitudes, and practices
The value of school for refugee and asylum seeking children is well established, in terms of their right to education under international law, their socio-emotional well-being, and their adaptation to living in a new country and culture. Yet there is a critical gap in our understanding of refugee education from the perspectives of educators – the people who interact with…
Understanding the learning experiences of highly educated refugees from Iraq and Syria en route to economic integration in Luxembourg
This qualitative exploratory study sought to understand highly educated Iraqi and Syrian refugees’ perceptions of their learning experiences during economic integration in Luxembourg. This research sought to elucidate how these new migrants learned to integrate in a country with a long tradition of migration but little exposure to Arabic-speaking groups. Further, it sought to explore participants’ experiences of what knowledge,…
Learning to integrate, waiting to belong: language, time and uncertainty among newcomers in Germany
What happens when we require newcomers to learn a country’s dominant language before they can work, study and become citizens? At first blush, this may seem beneficial for newcomers and local communities alike. In fact, language proficiency requirements across Europe are often treated as innocuous components of broader immigration policies. However, recent scholarship in linguistic anthropology and related fields has…
Happy 18th? Unaccompanied minors and the transition to adulthood. An Italian case study
This qualitative study considers the interaction between the Italian migration regime and young male African migrants (age 14-21) who have made the precarious, illegalised journey to Italy, where they are bureaucratically labelled as ‘unaccompanied minors’. The thesis focuses in on what happens when these children become legally adult; examining how the idealised concept of ‘childhood’ has a bordering effect, dividing…
Living in the European borderlands: Representation, humanitarian work, and integration in times of crises in Greece
The migration flows that peaked during the 2015-2016 “refugee crisis” have had long-lasting effects to the countries of the European South. The latter have been deemed as border wardens of the European Union, filtering the “undesirables” who pose a threat to the European North, and by extension a proclaimed “Western way of life.” This project examines the living conditions of…
The interaction between identity preservation and linguistic integration of immigrants: The case study of Eritreans in Switzerland
This study investigates the interaction between identity preservation and linguistic integration of Eritrean immigrants in the French speaking part of Switzerland. The focus is put on Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, who have been in Switzerland between six months to three years. This research is guided by three main research questions: a) what are their language use? b) what are…
Promoting the mental health and well-being of first-generation immigrants, asylum seekers and refugee young people in schools: A participatory action research study
Background: There is a dearth of literature that reports on what first-generation immigrants, asylum seekers and refugee young people see as effective self-help tools in matters relating to mental health. Some 50 million first-generation migrant children and young people may have experienced violence, loss and displacement. This can lead to young migrants suffering with negative psychological and social impacts, and…
The word “refugees” will always be stuck to us: Music, children, and postmigration experiences at the Simrishamn Kulturskola in Sweden
This dissertation centers on the stories and perspectives of young refugees from Syria and Afghanistan enrolled in Sweden’s municipal music-and-arts school, or kulturskola, programs. Kulturskolor are voluntary music and arts programs regulated by Sweden’s local municipalities. These music-and-arts schools were established in the 1930s and 1940s, corresponding with the rise of Sweden’s welfare state system. There are schools in nearly…
Between being and longing: Young former refugees’ experiences of place attachment and multiple belongings
This thesis focuses on young former refugees’ lived experiences of and reflections on processes of place attachment and negotiation of belonging in Norway. The analysis draws on a postcolonial understanding of migration and belonging, and is inspired by post-structuralism and critical phenomenology. The thesis analyses belonging from two perspectives: as a personal relationship to people and places, and as relationally…
Recognising refugees’ non-formally and informally acquired vocational skills for use in Germany’s labour market
The influx of asylum seekers into the European Union (EU) in 2015-2016 has turned the recognition of non-formal and informal learning (NFIL) into an integration priority and challenge. In EU terminology this process is called ‘validation’. Already in 2012, the Council of the EU had urged member states to create mechanisms for the validation of NFIL by no later than…
The digital literacy practices of newly arrived Syrian refugees: A spatio-visual linguistic ethnography
This doctoral research project is a visual linguistic ethnography that provides thick descriptions of newly arrived Syrian refugees’ smartphone-mediated digital literacy practices. The study investigates how three male newcomers to Leeds, Rojan, Aban and Mamoud, utilize mobile technologies and online resources, such as multilingual Facebook groups and smartphone applications, to instigate and support processes of settlement and belonging. To trace…
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children: Childhood, agency and integration
This thesis investigates the practices and understandings of integration of asylum-seekers, under 18, who arrive in the UK without parent, guardian or carer. The recognition of children as active participants in society is widespread across the social sciences, yet this critical enquiry into the integration of unaccompanied minors brings new understandings concerning the form and complexities of agency. Unaccompanied minors…
Experiences and expectations of successful immigrant and refugee students while in upper secondary schools in Iceland
The influx of refugees and immigrants into Iceland continues to affect the society socially, culturally, and politically. Like many other European countries, Iceland has become home to many refugees and immigrants, including young adults. This influx has affected the education system, and many schools have developed different models to serve the diverse needs of the increasing number of immigrant children…
Critical perspectives on social inclusion in integration education programs for adult migrants
This thesis explores the process of social inclusion of adult migrant learners enrolled in integration education programs. It reveals the Inclusectionalities denoting the intersections of inclusion and exclusion through which liminal spaces are revealed that position migrant students as between and betwixt belonging and othering. The study is based on research findings obtained during multiple case study fieldwork in Finland…
You and me, we’re the same. You struggle with Tigrinya and I struggle with English.’ An exploration of an ecological, multilingual approach to language learning with New Scots
Increased migration into Europe has placed integration and language learning for refugees at the centre of political and public discourses. Scotland’s Refugee Integration Strategy recognises the importance of linguistic diversity and academic literature also highlights the benefits of multilingual learning. However, most support for language learning for refugees is delivered monolingually, creating a gap between policy, literature, and practice. Research…
An emancipatory study exploring the educational experiences of unaccompanied children and young people
This research was set within the context of the refugee crisis and children and young people’s (CYP) rights. This study aimed to explore the educational experiences of unaccompanied children and young people (UCYP), a particularly high-risk group who are separated from their parents due to reasons such as war, persecution or violence, and whom do not have the protection of…
Migrants, refugees, and “diversity” at German universities: A grounded theory analysis
The current displacement crisis in the German context has focused scholarly attention on refugee student access to higher education. However, much less research has attended to supports at higher education institutions (HEIs) for enrolled migrant and refugee students. In fact, education research in the German setting rarely focuses on students from any migrant background, though these students comprise between 20-25%…
The effect of displacement: Living as a refugee: An exploration of displaced people in refugee camps in Greece
This study utilized a phenomenological approach to describe the experience of displaced individuals and families in a condition of statelessness in a refugee camp and their experiences pre-flight, trans-flight, and post-flight. Topics addressed included the conditions that led to flight from the country of origin and the individual and family experiences in the country of origin prior to flight and…
Critical inquiry into the education for refugee and migrant pupils: The construction of primary teachers’ practices in one city in Scotland
Schools and teachers play key roles in promoting positive re-settlement outcomes for refugees and migrants. As such, this requires schools and teachers to identify and respond to their diverse linguistic, cultural and emotional needs (Pastoor, 2015; Block et al., 2015; Hek, 2005). As a result, teacher roles can stem beyond their traditional expectations when presented with refugee and migrant pupils…
Identiti(es) and investment in learning English: An ethnographic study of Syrian refugees in the UK
This PhD project explored the experiences of 14 adult Syrian refugee language learners, recently arrived in the North East of England, as they learned English and negotiated their sense of self in their new environment. It sought to uncover the ways in which identities, identity transformations, and relations of power were implicated in the Syrians' investment in learning English. Further,…
The educational needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in UK in one local authority in England: Professional and child perspectives
This two-part small-scale research is positioned within a social constructionist interpretive epistemology. Both parts of the research used qualitative methods. Part One explores the perspectives of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in relation to their educational experiences in the UK. It also considers the experiences, opportunities and challenges for school and college staff with supporting the educational needs of UASC in…
Understandings of identities among university students from forced migrant backgrounds: A dialogical narrative analysis
Background and objectives: This study set out to explore identities among university students from forced migrant backgrounds. Issues related to identity have been found to contribute to the specific and significant challenges this student group can face in higher education. The research question was: how do students from forced migrant backgrounds understand their identities. Focusing on identities, through a dialogical…
A case study of English-speaking native-born German public school educators’ experiences with refugee and immigrant students
Teachers worldwide are adapting to meet educational needs caused by increased immigration. Germany has many immigrant students and ranks high in international education. This case study investigated experiences of English-speaking native-born German educators in Germany’s public primary schools when responding to refugee and immigrant students. Experiences when responding means how educators interact with immigrant students in school settings and perceive…
Shaping a future: An analysis of interaction in career counselling conversations with young migrants [Att skapa framtid: En analys av interaktionen i studie- och yrkesvägledande samtal med unga i migration]
This is an empirical study that aims to contribute to knowledge about the opportunities the career counselling conversation offers young migrants in shaping their future. Conversations play a central role in career counselling activities in Swedish schools; furthermore, the question of how the Swedish society promotes the inclusion of its immigrants has become an increasingly urgent issue. The study draws…
A well-founded fear’: Children’s literature about refugees and its role in the primary classroom
This study begins by identifying a new genre in writing for young people which has developed rapidly since the millennium, namely that of children’s literature about refugees. It questions whether these books have a role to play in understanding and validating the circumstances of refugees in the primary classroom. Taking as my starting point the UNHCR definition of a refugee…