Faculty, students present at premier anthropological conference

A paper was presented at the AAA 2015 Annual Conference by Assistant Professor Mussa Idris, in collaboration with Elon students Leena Dahal and Osca Opoku

Assistant Professor Mussa Idris in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology presented a research paper developed in collaboration with students Leena Dahal and Osca Opoku at the annual conference of the American Anthropological Association.

The AAA convention, held this year in Denver from Nov. 18-22, was attended by about 6,000 scholars, and it is one of the most important conferences in anthropology in the United States and beyond.

Idris, Dahal and Opoku’s paper, “Refugee Resettlement Experiences from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia in Greensboro, North Carolina: Needs and Services Impact Assessment,” was presented on Nov. 22.

This faculty-students collaborative research project uses ethnography to understand the refugee resettlement experience in Greensboro, North Carolina, as a pathway to develop a community-based participatory impact assessment. It aims to identify needs, challenges and opportunities of new refugee communities from Sub-Saharan Africa (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Eritrea) and Asia (Bhutan) through a partnership with one non-governmental resettlment organization that provides services to newly arrived refugee communities.

This research uses ethnographic methods, including participant observation and semi-structured interviews, to collect emic perspectives of the resettled refugee communities and the service providers on how different refugee communities understand resettlement and experience adjustment to their new culture and environment.

It also examines how the resettlement expectations and the needs of refugee communities coming from various cultures and contexts are addressed in the first three months after their arrival in the United States and beyond. The applied anthropological perspective of a community-based impact assessment is used to articulate challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned from the resettlement experiences and narratives of these communities coming from various cultures to Greensboro.

This study started in the Spring of 2015 and is in progress.