Date of Award

12-18-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Gayle Nelson

Second Advisor

Eric Friginal

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate how Somali refugee women experience language and literacy in their community of Clarkston, Georgia, and to identify their funds of knowledge (Gonzales, Moll, & Amanti, 2005), or unseen practices. The aim of this investigation is to strengthen and challenge their current modes of language socialization and to combat negative discourses that represent them as ‘vulnerable victims and cunning crooks’ (Horst, 2006). Clarkston, Georgia was chosen by private resettlement agencies as a refugee resettlement site in the early 1990s. In Clarkston, although there are several refugee serving agencies that focus on refugee education and integration, many Somali refugee women are still facing obstacles during the process of language socialization. In order to investigate the language socialization of Somali refugee women, a holistic case study was conducted. Participants included five Somali refugee women who were affiliated with one specific community of practice, a Somali-ethnic based community organization for refugees. Data collection involved my participant observation and field notes, interviews with the participants, and photographic documentation of the linguistic landscape (Landry & Bourhis, 1997) in Clarkston. Findings reveal the diverse language and literacy practices and language socialization pathways among participants, and shed light on some of the barriers to language socialization, including gender-based ideologies and textually-mediated social interactions, as well as some of the successful strategies they have used. In addition, the case of one exceptional Somali refugee woman, Mama Rita, presents funds of knowledge that may help enhance the language socialization of Somali refugee women and help to understand citizenship as practice rather than status.

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