Lending a Megaphone to the Muted: The Merits of Comprehensive Conflict Engagement through Photovoice in Refugee Resettlement Communities
Date of Submission
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Sherrill W. Hayes, PhD
Volker Franke, PhD
Heather Pincock, PhD
Spoma Jovanovic, PhD
Local refugee resettlement sites are often overlooked as hotspots of conflict because of the unstated assumption that resettlement and escape from militarized conflict automatically mean peace. However, refugees are resettled in local communities into which old conflicts are imported, and where new ones emerge as refugees and locals need to find ways of coexisting despite cultural differences. This research was developed in response to calls by the US Office of Refugee Resettlement and the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for grassroots-level data on the challenges faced by residents of resettlement communities and for the development of strategies for promoting intercultural understanding.
This dissertation delineates the development of the Comprehensive Conflict Engagement Model, based on which the image- and dialogue-based Photovoice methodology was modified and applied as a practical conflict intervention. This work bridges the gap between conflict theory and practice by collecting bottom-up information about the dynamics that shape people’s lives in Clarkston, a refugee resettlement hub in Georgia, and exploring the utility of the CCEM applied through Photovoice as a comprehensive conflict engagement strategy that concurrently targets the internal, relational, and structural bases of conflict.
The results suggest that the participants were generally satisfied with aspects of their environment on which they had an impact and dissatisfied when they were impacted uni-directionally, without reciprocal relationships and the power to actively shape their experiences. The results further demonstrate that a CCEM-based adaptation of Photovoice is a suitable comprehensive conflict engagement strategy for practitioners operating at the community level.