This week, while I was in California for my Ph.D. Classes, I got the pleasure of attending a dissertation defense for one of my wonderful colleagues at CIIS, Andrea Montgomery Di Marco
How a Group of Refugee-immigrant Women Living in the Diaspora in Metro-Vancouver Define Flourishing and Experience Participatory-Hospitality:
A Feminist Participatory Action Research
Refugees are a socio-political category produced by conflict; a category of humans who have become a global crisis. To date (2019) there are an estimated 68.5 million people who are displaced from their homelands, which number includes more than 25.4 million refugees who have fled their homes because it is no longer safe to stay. I propose the further category of refugee-immigrant to describe refugees who are living in a host country as permanent residents; the category is important firstly to locate the individuals who are no longer living in the hiatus of a refugee camp or temporary refuge country, and secondly to clearly demarcate challenges and obstacles that may not exist when one immigrates by choice.
There is an absence in the literature on the experiences of refugee-immigration that include or focus on the voices of women, and a further lack of discussion on refugee-immigrant flourishing. This research, grounded in a feminist participatory action research (FPAR) methodology, sought to discover: How a group of refugee-immigrant women living in the diaspora in Metro-Vancouver, Canada, define flourishing? The concept of flourishing was initially perceived by me to mean a state of wellness of mind, body, and spirt, and differentiates a state of mere survival from a state of well-being and growth. The methodology is based in transnational feminism informed by Dérridean and Lévinasian hospitality; a methodology that is both democratic and decolonizing.
The research group, self-identified as Global Women Seeking Change (Global Women), practised a host-host methodology or participatory-hospitality, a term I propose to specifically capture the nature of this methodology, that resulted in both significant social action and a sustainable community action group. This research revealed much about the obstacles and experiences of refugee-immigration, including the main obstacles of language barriers, family reunification, and childcare, all of which impede the experience of flourishing; but primarily revealed epistemology that included potential solutions and suggestions for policy change and social innovation as they relate to family definition, education, access to resources, and housing.
Global Women determined flourishing to be born of resilience; it may include the presence of melancholy; it includes acknowledgement of mystery; and it includes acceptance of that which appears unacceptable. Global Women further determined that flourishing is an active, participatory, and ongoing process.
Keywords: feminist, participatory action research, FPAR, transnational feminism, flourishing, hospitality, participatory-hospitality, host-host methodology, refugee, refugee-immigrant, refugeeism, decolonizing methodology, Metro-Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada
Photo from Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail