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: J. Eduardo Chemin
Year: 2017 Vol: 2 Number: 2
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.