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Abstract

Migration studies often focus on top-down views of national and state governance integration and assimilation efforts for refugee families, and there is a glaring need for studies that center the voices and experiences of refugee families and children themselves, especially those being resettled in small-scale U.S. cities. An increasing number of refugees are being resettled in cities and attending urban schools that have been historically populated by poor, racial minorities, and disenfranchised populations. How newly arriving Syrian refugee families are negotiating their place in racial hierarchy/ies, relative to the native-born and immigrant populations with their own histories of oppression and political resistance, speaks to an important narrative about changing demographics and race relations.

In order to address this gap, this study will examine the day-to-day experiences and sense of belonging of a group of Syrian refugees recently resettled in the small city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, using a multimethod case study design. The research draws from and integrates multiple types and levels of data and analysis – historical archives, census data, in-depth interviews, and GIS mapping. It investigates how particularities of these “small-scale city spaces” with their own distinctive migration histories, local politics, and changing demographics, serve as important sites of interaction and resistance for refugee families and their children. Using school systems and assignments to demonstrate belonging and intergroup relations, this study reveals how a group of Syrian refugee parents drew from both practical and symbolic resources – a process that included building coalition across racial and ethnic boundaries towards garnering political and social capital for their children.

In: (Re)Mapping Migration and Education
In: (Re)Mapping Migration and Education
Volume Editors: Cathryn Magno, Jamie Lew, and Sophia Rodriguez
At a time of unprecedented human migration, education can serve as critical space for examining how our society is changing and being changed by this global phenomenon. This important and timely book focuses on methodological lenses to study how migration intersects with education.

In view of newer methodological propositions such as the reduction of participant/researcher binaries, along with newer technology allowing for mapping various forms of data, the authors in this volume question the very legitimacy of traditional methods and attempt here to expose power relations and researcher assumptions that may hinder most methodological processes. Authors raise innovative questions, blur disciplinary lines, and reinforce voice and agentry of those who may have been silenced or rendered invisible in the past.

Contributors are: Gladys Akom Ankobrey, Sarah Anschütz, Amy Argenal, Anna Becker, Jordan Corson, Courtney Douglass, Edmund T. Hamann, Belinda Hernandez Arriaga, Iram Khawaja, Jamie Lew, Cathryn Magno, Valentina Mazzucato, Timothy Monreal, Laura J. Ogden, Onallia Esther Osei, Sophia Rodriguez, Betsabé Roman, Juan Sánchez García, Vania Villanueva, Reva Jaffe Walter, Manny Zapata and Victor Zúñiga.