Youth, War & Migration focuses on the everyday realities of youth and young adults from the Middle East as they have experienced war, militarization, displacement, migration, and resettlement in a new society. With growing incidences of conflict and war throughout the Middle East, and the involvement of youth and young adults in both armed and unarmed resistance, an already precarious population of young people now face migration, displacement, and resettlement. We understand the Middle East and its population of young adults to be an extremely diverse in terms of race, religion, class, gender, sexuality, language, and ethnicity. The unifying experience of the youth, however, is the condition of war and migration. The primary focus of this research is, therefore, to investigate how young people, understood to be individuals from the age of adolescence through age 30, explore new avenues for growth, social support, and connection to a community after experiencing conditions of war and the process of migration. Research has identified the impacts of militarization in the lives of young adults as, for example: delayed, interrupted, or incomplete transitions between school and work; alienation from traditional civic institutions and susceptibility to extremist worldviews; and a lack of skills and facilities for social and cultural integration, including language, cultural literacy, workplace knowledge, and civic engagement. The objective of the research is therefore to track, record, and document the experience of youth transitioning from conflict zones in the Middle East to Canada. Within this research, we view migration as an ongoing process of transition through war, militarism, displacement, border-crossing, and resettlement and as a mind-body experience that affects physical, mental, social, political, and economic well-being.
THEORETICAL & METHDOLOGICAL APPROACHES
The theoretical orientation of Youth, War & Migration is a critical, feminist, anti-racist approach to youth studies research. Experts in the field advise that in addition to a feminist, anti-racist, and equity orientation to youth work, particular philosophical commitments to working with youth must be present in research. These include reflexivity, participation, multiple avenues for expression and voice, critical institutional analysis, and commitment to an anti-oppressive framework. Previous research with marginalized youth populations has confirmed the success of an approach to youth research that emphasizes the importance of biography and critical reflection and which uses arts-based participatory methods. This research will involve the active engagement of 50 young people who have arrived in the GTA in the last five years from refugee camps in Turkey. In addition to interviewing and focus groups, the youth will participate in two years of arts-based workshop to be co-facilitated by a community artist and a member of the research team. Through these workshops, participants will create individual and group pieces expressing their understanding of the migration process using digital storytelling methods, autoethnographic writing, narrative history research, photovoice, and popular theater. The knowledge mobilization activities are connected to the plan for training of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and community artists. Each phase of research involves knowledge mobilization activities that bring students into intellectual exchange with national and international organizations, service providers, and artist communities. These exchanges are anchored workshops for students, by the public arts and research events, including conference presentations, academic publishing, and co-authorship between the research team, post-doc fellows, and students.