ERG SES C 07, Learning and Education
Due to the civil war in Syria and political issues of terrorism in the Middle East, the number of asylum seekers and refugees in the European countries rose enormously. More than two million people have applied as asylum seekers in Europe in the year 2015 (UNHCR, 2015).
In a discourse analytical perspective, we can analyze discourse-agents such as the media and the EU discursifying this as a political ‘crisis’ within and for EU countries (Greussing et al 2017; Heisbourg 2015; Baker et al 2013; Bradimore et al 2012; Taylor 2014). As we can see, the term ‘refugee crisis’ has become a prevalent topic in political and media discourse. A discourse oriented analysis of political EU papers, as well as media representations show, that refugees are represented as risk, as burden and not as a people with resources and capabilities.
Based on the analysis of refugees’ subject position in the public and media sphere, the contribution searches for alternative discourses in the academic world to transfer the deficit gaze on refugees. The academic world often is made responsible to bring about free-thinking, innovative approaches and to promote sustainable approaches within a changing and globalized world. Educational rationalities may allow to overcome the deficit gaze of political and media discourse for refugees by using the potential of resource and capability perspectives (Sen 1993; Nussbaum 2001). They carry the potential not to individualize and to segregate but to contextualize and to refer to empowerment.
Empowerment approaches always intend to support the silenced voices to being heard. Academic research finds the lack of visibility of women refugees in the public and media sphere. If at all represented, they will be imagined as victim of the Muslim religion and culture (Navarro, 2010; Rettberg & Gajjala, 2016). Academic professional perspectives ask for paying more attention to women as they were systematically and in many ways marginalized. Still, they are a resourceful group of human beings (Busch & Valentine, 2000; Hanmer, 1999; Hoff, 2016). Starting from a discourse analytical perspective into the rationalities of counter-discourses to deficit perspectives, the paper argues for a discourse-oriented empowerment professionalization approach in Education.
The contribution wishes to prototype the alternative empowerment professionalization approach for women refugees to transform not only the deficit ‘gaze’ of refugees, but also to strengthen and empower women towards their own empowerment professionalization. The approach taken interconnects design- and action-research, life work planning and Train the Trainer concepts. It is considered as “one of the few research approaches that embraces principles of participation, reflection, empowerment, and emancipation of people and groups interested in improving their social situation or condition” (Berg, 2004, p. 195). Action research supports empowerment and research (Reason, 1994). McNiff et al. (2003) see Action Research as a learning process, leading to a practice of social improvement and transformation. By using this methodology, we can learn from refugees’ experiences and even integrate them into the research processes.
Connecting to ‘Empowerment’ (Zimmerman 1995) and enablement, they connect to resource discourses (Bolles 1981) and allow to prototype an alternative approach for empowerment professionalization of women refugees by using Train the Trainer approach and Life Work Planning (self-help manual). The contribution will show an empowerment professionalization approach for women refugees in order to support self-organization and to contribute to finding their potentials. It will show the results of a pretest realized with refugee women. The paper reflects on intercultural adaptability and changes needed for female refugees. It discusses the workshop evaluation results and they showed that the approach taken was perspectives of helpful for the refugee women on the workshop and its implementation potential for refugee women.
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