Dr. Maysa Siag
“Who Am I? I Am From There” The Social Representations of the Self and Homeland Shared by Palestinian Adolescents Born In Diaspora and Living in Refugee Camps
The research aims at exploring the social identity and the emotions associated with it of 200 adolescent Palestinian refugees born and living in Diaspora.
The 200 adolescents were living in seven different refugee camps in Jordan, mean age 16.53 and gender balanced. For the beginning, and after realizing the participants’ multi layered social identities (Roccas and Brewer, 2002), it was decided to have a pilot study to explore the main layers of their social identity defined by them, and using the Twenty Statements Test (TST: Kuhn & McPartland, 1954; Cousins, 1989) asking the participants to answer twenty times to the question “Who-Am- I?”, in order to extract the main layers of identity emerging from these participants’ spontaneous self-definitions. The results of the pilot study demonstrated that the participants’ main layers of identity were: Palestinian, Palestinian refugee, Arab, Young person, and Muslim.
The research is as an empirical contribution to the ongoing field of social identity theory and the social representations theory, linking the two together. The research when considering and understanding the Adolescent Palestinian refugees’ identity had to weight their collective history and the past violence suffered by the in-group which is shaping their reality, and the complexity of their social identity. As well as the developmental approaches as adolescents are a central concern of our research.
The research being explorative is divided into three studies, starting from the general to the more specific and building on the findings.
The first study has to deal with the Adolescent Palestinian refugees spontaneous self definitions and the emotions associated with them.
The second study has to deal with the content and structure of the participants’ self definitions, to understand the participants self definitions and its contents not only through the frequency of their occurrence but also from their order of evocation, and will be discussed in terms of how socially shared and accessible to the memory were those contents. The second study will also explore more of the adolescent Palestinian refugees’ through collecting their negation of self identities.
The third study will discuss the manipulation carried out through this study by making one layer of social identity salient to the participants to record the changes of the content produced (including emotions), and not only the content but the structure of that content, and according to each layer of their social identity to make a comparison within participants and in between groups.
About Dr. Maysa Siag
Dr. Maysa Siag is currently a Research Trainee at the European Doctorate on Social Representation and Communication at La Sapienza, University of Rome.