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2001 Mellon-MIT Grantees

Dr. Rogaia Abusharaf Tufts University -- "Vanishing Security: Changing Cultural Practices Among War Displaced Southern Sudanese Women in Khartoum"
Cari Clark Harvard University -- "Identification and Analysis of the Tools Used in Sexual and Gender Based Violence Field Research"
Prof. Susan Eckstein
and Lorena Barberia
Boston University and Harvard University -- "The Ties that Bind: Cross-Border Refugee Ties and their Effects"
Heather Gregg MIT -- "Assessing Strategies and Successes of Diasporic Communities in Securing Aid to the Homeland: The Role of Ethnic Lobby Groups in the US"
Shahid Punjani MIT -- "Characteristics of Afghan Hazara Settlement in Peshawar"
Dr. Rosalind Shaw Tufts University -- "Reimagining the Ordinary: Displaced Youth, Reconciliation, and Pentecostal Churches in Freetown" 
Katrina Simon MIT -- "Using Geographic Information Systems for Sustainable Environmental Management of Refugee Operations in Dadaab Camp, Northern Kenya"
Smita Srinivas MIT -- "Social Security for Migrant Workers: Prospects in the Indian Construction Sector" 
Theresa Stichick Harvard -- "The Role of Social Support and 'Supportive Context' in the IRC's Non-Formal Education Program for Chechen Displaced Youth in Ingushetia, Russia"
Amy Ruth West The Fletcher School -- "Tuning In and Jamming Out: Radio's Role in the Tanzanian Refugee Camps"

 

Dr. Rogaia Abusharaf 
Tufts University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology 
September to December 2001
Vanishing Security: Changing Cultural Practices among War Displaced Southern Sudanese Women in Khartoum

NGO Partner: Mutawinat Group (Sudan) 

The objective of this project is to examine the experiences of Southern Sudanese women and girls who were forced to flee to the Capital City of Khartoum after the renewal of the civil war in 1989. The project will focus on the factors that led Southern Sudanese displaced women to adopt the practice of female circumcision. Before their forced migration to Khartoum, this practice was unheard of in their sending communities. In this project I will conduct ethnographic research in collaboration with the Mutawinat Group, a Sudanese NGO that has extensive experience with displaced women. This ethnographic research will investigate the nature of the process by which female circumcision came to be practiced by these women. This investigation will be undertaken in an effort to understand the impacts of forced migration on beliefs, behavior, and on individual and group security, and to gain insights on the complexity of the decision to adopt this ritual. We will focus on two camps in Khartoum that represent different Southern Sudanese ethnic and regional backgrounds in order to compare and contrast the experiences of the displaced in relation to the adoption of the practice. We expect the resulting research to fill gaps in the literature on the effects of forced migration on individuals and groups as well as on the social world of displaced women. We also expect that the findings to be helpful to local, national and international NGOs involved in community relief services. 

 

Cari Clark 
Harvard School of Public Health 
June to September 2001
Identification and Analysis of the Tools used in Sexual and Gender Based Violence Field Research

NGO Partner: Reproductive Health for Refugees (RHR) Consortium c/o  International Rescue Committee

A paucity of methodologically sound data on the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has encumbered administrators, programmers, health care providers, and activists who understand the consequences of SGBV for individual victims and society, but lack the information necessary to attract political attention and donor funding. While efforts to document the extent of SGBV are underway, albeit sparsely, limitations in the approaches continue to hamper valid, reliable, and comparable estimates of SGBV.  Therefore, a standardized approach, anchored in the individual circumstances of the particular refugee/IDP setting, would provide a valid and comparable estimate of the prevalence of SGBV.  Contextualized estimates of the violence are prerequisites to programming more effective prevention and response strategies. In an effort to develop the aspects of SGBV that are amenable to standardized questionnaires, research into local perceptions of SGBV and currently utilized research tools and methodologies are necessary.  Documenting the similarities and differences in these observations and tools over different refugee/IDP settings will enable us to assess  the feasibility of creating a standardized instrument capable of both estimating the prevalence of SGBV and illuminating the context in which it is perpetrated. 

 

Professor Susan Eckstein and Lorena Barberia 
Boston University, Department of Sociology, and Harvard University, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies 
July to December 2001
The Ties that Bind: Cross-Border Refugee Ties and Their Effects

NGO Partner: Inter-American Dialogue

Do people who emigrate for economic and political reasons, by choice or default, differ in how they adapt to countries where they settle and in their homeland ties?  Our study will address these issues with specific reference to Cuban émigrés to the United States.  This project should contribute empirically and theoretically to an improved understanding of refugees vs. immigrants and assimilation vs. transnationalism.

With reference to Cuban immigration, several propositions guide the proposed study.  (1) Émigré cohorts differ in their social and economic backgrounds, motives for emigrating, experiences following immigration, and their homeland ties, depending on when they left Cuba. The main social divide is between those emigrating before and after 1980. (2) The early refugees from Castro's Cuba dominate community leadership and seek to speak for all Cuban-Americans, even though they have become increasingly unrepresentative of the émigré community residing in the United States.  Nearly half of all Cuban-Americans came to the US after 1980. (3) Compliance with Washington's embargo varies among émigré cohorts.  Neither the US government nor the seemingly powerful first wave Cuban-American leadership effectively keep the politically weak second wave from covertly evading the embargo, in particular from visiting their homeland and providing island family with remittances (both of which Washington restricts).  (4) In visiting and sending remittances, Cuban-Americans are engaging in types of cross-border relations similar to those of other "new immigrant" groups, but, paradoxically, with a greater impact on the home country.  Cuban-American transnational ties are unwittingly serving to restructure socialism on the island as the economy becomes "dollarized" and society less egalitarian.

Our project builds on research conducted in year 2000 with MIT-Mellon support, which explored immigration and cross-border visiting patterns in the US and Cuba and the impact of remittances on the Cuban economy at the macro and micro levels.  The current grant will provide support to expand the research scope and aid in the preparation of a series of articles and a book manuscript.  Thus far, our research has included over 100 interviews with community leaders and rank-and-file residents in the two main Cuban-American settlements, Greater Miami Dade County (Florida) and Greater Union City Hudson County (New Jersey), and with Cubans in Havana.  With additional support, we will broaden our sample, both in the US and Cuba, further investigate mechanisms of remittance-sending, and analyze the work and impact of NGOs, especially church groups that work in Cuba.
 

Heather Gregg 
MIT Department of Political Science
June to August 2001
Assessing Strategies and Successes of Diasporic Communities in Securing Aid to the Homeland:  The Role of Ethnic Lobby Groups in the US

NGO Partner: Armenian National Committee of America

This research project proposes to examine one ethnic lobby in the United States-the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)-to explore the lobby's goals, strategies and successes in achieving support for Armenia, and to compare this lobby's strategies with existing scholarship on AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby in the US. The following questions will be asked: How do diasporic communities capture political and material support for their homelands within their new countries of residence?  Do diasporic communities form alliances with other groups within their new countries to gain their objectives? Do ethnic groups learn from other ethnic lobby groups' strategies and successes in gaining political and material support for their homelands? 

To study ANCA, I propose a two-step research process: First, I will use the existing scholarship on AIPAC as a benchmark for how one ethnic lobby in the US has designed its goals and achieved its successes.  This would allow for comparing the strategies and achievements of the pro-Israel lobby with those of the pro-Armenia lobby. Second, I will use the method of process-tracing to research ANCA-its inception, its key actors, the topics it has pursued, and its strategies for securing US recognition and support for Armenia. I will process-trace by conducting interviews in ANCA's office in Watertown, Massachusetts and their national headquarters in Washington, DC. In addition, I will make use of the resources of the Armenian Studies Program in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. 
 

Shahid Punjani 
MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
June to August 2001
Characteristics of Afghan Hazara Settlement in Peshawar

NGO Partner: UNHCR and local NGOs in Pakistan

The flow of Afghan migrants to Pakistan is not a new phenomenon nor one necessarily related to war.  Even before the communist coup of Kabul in 1978 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the following year, more than 75,000 Afghans crossed the Pakistan border annually.  At the apex of the Afghan-Soviet conflict however, the number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan swelled to over 3.2 million.  Despite their steady repatriation in the 1990s, displaced Afghans-of which 1.2 million remain in Pakistan today-have held the distinction of being the largest refugee group in the world for more than twenty years.

Today, neither the ideological conflict between Islam and communism nor the presence of an external military threat defines the state of affairs in Afghanistan.  Instead, the current crisis features fighting between the majority Pashtun Taliban and a fragile alliance of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic minorities. The Taliban's intolerance towards groups with divergent interpretations of Islam overlay this ethnic factionalism. Thus while the number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has dwindled since the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, these cleavages have transformed the ethno-religious composition of the Afghan refugees remaining in Pakistan.

By focusing on the Hazara ethnic group, the research aims to shed light on the role of ethnic and religious affiliations in determining refugee settlement patterns. The study will be confined to Peshawar, a city in northern Pakistan and located some forty kilometers away from the Afghan border. The research hypothesizes that the Hazaras, as an ethno-religious minority within the community of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, possess greater group cohesion than other Afghan groups and as such, enjoy better socio-economic conditions. The research uses indicators such as income, access to education and healthcare, as well as future expectations, to compare the well-being of the primarily urban Hazaras against the available UNHCR aggregate data on Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
 
 

Dr. Rosalind Shaw 
Tufts University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
June to August 2001
Reimagining the Ordinary: Displaced Youth, Reconciliation, and Pentecostal Churches in Freetown

NGO Partner: Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL)

During Sierra Leone's ten-year rebel war, children and adolescents have been targeted as combatants by all sides. As a result of atrocities that young people have been forced to commit when the rebels abducted them from their families, and have continued to commit when drugged and sent into combat, young people have become feared as embodiments of violence in Sierra Leone. This widespread perception of youth as actual or potential criminals has received state legitimation in the Sierra Leone government's 
recent argument that children and teenagers should be tried for war crimes-an argument that (with the condition of an age limit of 15) was supported by both Kofi Annan and the UN Under-Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. In view of this criminalization of youth, it is important to identify and support local initiatives that seek to rehabilitate the connections between youth and adults and to recover (or reimagine) 
"ordinary" sociality in the face of young people's experiences of terror and violence. Not all of those who carry out these initiatives are professionals implementing formal projects. Among others, they include pentecostal churches whose leaders employ spiritual healing in order to rehabilitate young people and to bring about their reconciliation with the community. In this project, I will investigate the ways in which, through social support networks, and through such techniques as spiritual healing, prayer, confession, and giving thanks, these churches seek to provide a new configuration of the person and the social world in order to recover the sociality of children and teenagers who have experienced violence.
 
 
 

Katrina Simon 
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
August to December 2001
Using Geographic Information Systems for Sustainable Environmental Management of Refugee Operations in Dadaab Camp, northern Kenya

NGO Partner: UNHCR

Natural resource management has been a challenge in the vicinity of the Dadaab refugee camps, Ifo, Dagahaley, and Hagadera, in Kenya's remote northeastern zone near Somalia. This project attempts to provide guidelines for a resource management plan for these refugee camps using geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing. Both remote sensing and GIS will be explored as planning tools to examine the interrelationship between the refugee settlement and the environment. The research will include a critical assessment of the potential of GIS for environmental planning in refugee settings. Two important questions will be answered by this research: (1) What value can GIS add to environmental planning and policy formulation in refugee situations and to refugee censuses? (2) What is technologically feasible or infeasible, and what 
are the political, economic, or other constraints on using GIS and remote sensing for these purposes? Research will take place over a four-month period. The partnering agency is the Kenya Branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
 
 
 
Smita Srinivas 
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
June 2001 to February 2002
Social Security for Migrant Workers: Prospects in the Indian Construction Sector

NGO Partner: The Social Security Association of India (SSAI)

The ILO estimates that approximately 2 billion workers world wide remain without a minimal set of social protections against risk. Within this context, social insurance programs bring into sharp focus two very real concerns for governments everywhere: how can they balance the genuine need for work-related protections on the one hand, with the desire, on the other, to industrialise and compete with neighbouring states or countries while keeping wages down? Is this indeed a "race to the bottom"? In a world of scarce resources and significant political capital at stake for every tax increase or resource re-allocation, what is the trade-off and clear evidence to persuade governments to take on the burden of providing such schemes? 

Most important, how do vulnerable groups like migrant workers get protection? Mobility exacerbates the problem of risks and coverage, leading to governments focusing instead on other 'easier' population groups. Social stratification analyses for insurance indicate that the weakest pressure groups are covered last. Yet, evidence from India with some migrant worker coverage calls for a more detailed understanding of how migrant and women workers, among the 'weakest' groups, received social insurance benefits.

Through a comparative case study of construction work in two similar states in southern India, this research project aims to close the gap in understanding how government programs can provide a minimal set of protections for poor intra-national, inter-state migrant workers.  The comparison allows us to look at one state with social insurance for migrant construction workers (Tamil Nadu) and one without (Karnataka). It focuses on "Welfare Funds" in the Indian construction industry and on two particular risks: accident insurance and maternity benefits. In particular, why do these two states, similar in so many respects, have such different labour protections? What specific historical, institutional, social or other features influence the politics and financing of social insurance?

Welfare Funds are particularly attractive for casual workers and migrants especially, because they de-link social insurance eligibility and benefits from being tied to specific employers. Understanding how one state government has managed to provide such labour protections, while another could not, provides us a way of understanding the political features of a generic public finance problem world-wide: how to extend social insurance to migrant workers and other vulnerable groups in the economy. 
 
 
 

Theresa Stichick 
Harvard School of Public Health
June to August 2001

The Role of Social Support and "Supportive Context" in the IRC's Non-Formal Education Program for Chechen Displaced Youth in Ingushetia, Russia

NGO Partner: International Rescue Committee

This project is a continuation of research initiated last year with support from the Mellon-MIT Inter-University Program on NGOs and Forced Migration. The original research design was revised following security threats that limited access by the researcher to beneficiary populations in Ingushetia.  The project was expanded with matched funding from the IRC to pilot test tools for remote data collection.  The revised research design includes two main features: A survey of mental health and social support among adolescents living in the spontaneous settlements served by the IRC, and a series of key informant and group interviews aimed at describing the environmental and social context of adjustment for children living in the settlements.  A series of over 70 qualitative interviews and a survey of 198 teens have been collected to date.  Continued funding will support: 1) analysis of survey and interview data; 2) the collection of additional information on teen literacy and; 3) a process of reporting back to the communities that participated in the pilot evaluation.  Lessons learned in the process as well as some of the initial findings have resulted in program improvements and the development of methods for program evaluation that may be adapted to other emergency settings. 
 
 


Amy Ruth West 
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
June to August 2001
Tuning In and Jamming Out: Radio's Role in the Tanzanian Refugee Camps

NGO Partner: Mission Mikocheni Health and Education Network (MMHEN) and SELFINA Ltd

By interviewing those involved in refugee work in the area of Kigoma, Mwanza, and Western Tanganyika, including but not limited to UNHCR personnel, international and local NGO personnel, Church officials, international journalists, local and national government officials, as well as refugees inside and outside of the camps, I will seek to ascertain how people in post- conflict situations obtain information, what ways media can be used to aid both the local community and refugee populations, and how community groups, more specifically the Church (an essential community structure), can best utilize media to communicate with diverse population groups in the area, thus strengthening the manner in which information can be used as a coping mechanism. My research, focusing on Tanzania and its use of radio programs that cover development, education and health issues, will explore how media intervention can be a useful tool in resolving conflicts, easing tensions, promoting awareness of 'the other', and communicating between disparate groups in prolonged crisis situations. Using the successful example of Radio Kwizera for the Burundian refugees, I will investigate how local radio provides information to the refugees in the Congolese camps on current issues affecting their lives.

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