LINGUIST List 32.2272

Sat Jul 03 2021

Diss: Turkish; Applied Linguistics: Author: Melissa B Hauber-Özer: ''Diss Title: “We Must Not Stop Now”: Advocacy Ethnography with Syrian Refugees in Turkish Higher Education''

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <>

Date: 01-Jul-2021
From: Melissa Hauber-Özer <>
Subject: Diss Title: “We Must Not Stop Now”: Advocacy Ethnography with Syrian Refugees in Turkish Higher Education
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Institution: George Mason University
Program: International Education
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2021

Author: Melissa B Hauber-Özer

Dissertation Title: “We Must Not Stop Now”: Advocacy Ethnography with Syrian Refugees in Turkish Higher Education

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Turkish (tur)

Dissertation Director:
Meagan Call-Cummings
Rebecca K. Fox
Kathleen Ramos

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines the experiences of a group of 11 Syrian young adult refugees living under temporary protection status and studying at Turkish universities. Using critical ethnography and narrative inquiry methodology and drawing on critical theory, sociocultural perspectives on language learning, and Norton’s investment framework, the study examines the ways these students navigate numerous social, linguistic, and structural obstacles to invest in their goals. Set in the country with the largest number of refugees in the world, this study contributes to the limited literature on higher education for refugees, particularly the gap in research on displacement settings.

Multilingual, multimodal data were collected in Turkish, English, and Arabic through a questionnaire, in-depth, semi-structured interviews, and photovoice workshops and analyzed collaboratively with a Syrian key informant using layered narrative analysis. Analysis revealed a common story arc running through the participants’ experiences, which are presented as individual narrative portraits highlighting both unique and common experiences of navigating linguistic, economic, and structural obstacles. The findings underscore the importance of quality language instruction, interpersonal relationships, and supportive faculty members and illuminate key shortcomings in current Turkish educational and migration policy and urgent needs for curricular reform and teacher professional development.

On a larger scale, the study calls into question assumptions about integration in the nation of asylum being the ideal long-term outcome for refugees, indicating instead that access and choice in educational and employment pathways can facilitate adaptation and positive trajectories. These findings contribute to the literature by providing richly textured insights and contest deficit perspectives that paint refugees as a public burden. Finally, this study lays a methodological foundation for future work which centers the experiences of refugees and disrupts Northern dominance of forced migration scholarship.

Page Updated: 03-Jul-2021