Update (Nov 2017)
My current research explores newly arrived Syrian refugees’ digital literacy practices, particularly those displayed on smartphones and via social media. My research project is a visual linguistic ethnography, which explores newly arrived Syrian refugees’ digital literacy practices, particularly those displayed via mobile technologies. Over a data collection phase of over eight months, I followed three key participants’ trajectories of settlement, tracing and documenting their efforts and daily experiences in claiming their new lives. Informed by ethnographic scholarship, I collected an array of qualitative, multifaceted, and multimodal data which included: detailed, in-depth fieldnotes, photographs, audio and video recorded conversations, semi-structured interviews, screenshots of social media posts, text messages and screen recordings of my participants’ habitual multilingual and multimodal digital literacy practices. Data collection took place in a range of physical and digital spaces, varying in their structures of authority and officialdom: community centres, ESOL classrooms, places of worship, cafés, bars, and the private homes of my participants were among the spaces which I visited regularly to meet and interact with my key participants.
In general terms, this study offers insights into newly arrived Syrian refugees’ everyday lives and their respective habitual digital literacy practices; my aim is to provide ‘thick descriptions’ (Geertz, 1973) of how adult migrants, who are newcomers to the UK, make use of mobile technologies to support processes of integration and settlement, but also of English language and literacy development. More specifically, the analytical foci of this research project are positioned around three key themes, namely multimodality, capital, and space.