Methodological Challenges in the Study of Forced Migration: Trauma, Resilience, Religion and the Problem of Trust in the Context of the Syrian Diaspora in Turkey

Author/s:

DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2017.2.2.0105

Year: 2017 Vol: 2 Number: 2

Abstract

As a researcher living and working in the Turkish cities of Mersin and Adana – major destinations for Syrians in the East Mediterranean – I wanted to learn how displaced Syrians cope with the trauma of being forced to emigrate and how they build resilience. Given the reported high-levels of religiosity amongst Syrians, I also wanted to understand the possible role of religion in helping displaced people develop positive coping strategies. My findings revealed that the majority of the refugees I interviewed considered themselves to be religious whilst most experienced a traumatic event. I also found a modest but positive correlation between attachment to a religious community and the building of positive coping strategies. However, only a small number of Syrians interviewed took part in the life of the host communities around them. Based on these findings, I argue that, perhaps, this presents us with a methodological problem, one that originates in a distortion of the data by the social and psychological contexts in which displaced Syrians living in Turkey find themselves embedded. In the process of describing this research context, I discuss some of the methodological challenges in the study of forced migration more broadly, whilst problematizing the ethics of researching vulnerable populations living in unstable political and social environments.

Keywords
Syrians, Forced migration, Trauma, Religion, Resilience, Methods

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