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Title:Mothering experiences in the aftermath of armed conflict: A phenomenological study of Syrian refugee mothers in Jordan
Author(s):Qushua, Najat
Director of Research:Ostler, Teresa
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ostler, Teresa
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Zhan, Min; Powell, Tara; Korr, Wynne; Sensoy Bahar, Ozge
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Syrian refugees, mothering, phenomenology, hermeneutics, displacement
Abstract:This qualitative phenomenological study explores the phenomenon of mothering in the aftermath of war and displacement among twenty-five Syrian refugee mothers living in exile in Jordan. Drawing on Van Manen’s (1997b) hermeneutic phenomenological approach, it asks: What is it like to parent in the aftermath of war and displacement? Through semi-structured interviews, study participants describe their everyday lived experiences, situations, and relationships. Their narratives are analyzed using a selective reading approach to isolate phrases or statements that are especially revealing. The thematic analysis was guided by the four life existentials: a sense of space, body, time, and self (Van Manen, 1997b). Among the twelve themes identified to explain the changes mothers experienced are: external circumstances and survival struggles pushed these mothers out of their familiar space, the private space of the home, and into the public space where they engaged in income-earning and help-seeking activities. As they gained the ability to move more freely than in their previous life in Syria, mothers challenged old patriarchal norms in which male family members restricted their movement. Participants’ lived experience of their bodies meant they coped with physical pain by taking pills rather than treating the original health problem. Married and fertile women gave birth in Jordan, which provided them with a sense of normality. Mothers felt stronger, warmer, and closer to their children, but also poor, helpless, and vulnerable. Mothers experienced ‘present time’ as the dominant time sphere and faced many challenges to survive on a daily basis. At the same time, they did not lose future perspective and held hopes and fears regarding their children’s futures. These findings both reveal the multifaceted nature and complexity of the phenomenon of mothering in the context of war and displacement and also stress the need to view mothering in a holistic manner rather than focusing on single aspects such as resiliency and coping strategies, or psychopathology and mental health conditions. Based on this holistic view, recommendations for practice, research and policy are made and discussed.
Issue Date:2020-12-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Najat Qushua
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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