Mirjam Abigail Twigt
I study how refugees and other migrants who are residing in prolonged precarious conditions of legal and social uncertainty beyond Europe make sense of and navigate their situated and digitally connected lives. My approach is ethnographic, as I am interested in how technological changes play out in the everyday experience of people who, under violent or dire conditions, seek refuge. I am inspired by and dedicated to decolonialising research practices.
For the REF-ARAB project I seek to further understand what the move towards technologies in humanitarian assistance means for the refugee protection in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). As of January 2020, UNHCR Iraq had registered 283,022 refugees of whom 247,770 are Syrian nationals. More than 98 % are residing in the KR-I. I question how the increased datafication of refugee protection, which includes practices of digital refugee lawyering, is experienced by people who have become forcibly displaced and by lawyers and organisations who seek to legally support them in securing their rights and mobility?
I hold a PhD in Media, Communication and Sociology from University of Leicester, UK (2018). I obtained a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam (2008) and a master’s degree in International Development Studies with a focus on sociology from Wageningen University (2013).
I have lived for approximately 3 years in Jordan’s capital Amman, where I – among other things - worked as a research officer for ARDD, a local legal aid organisation committed to the rights of people affected by displacement, and held a position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), based at the British Institute of Amman.
The findings of my PhD-thesis and postdoctoral research form the basis of my forthcoming monograph (2022) which will be published in the Forced Migration Series of Berghahn Books. It argues against a short-sighted and utilitarian approach to the digital connectivity of people who are living in prolonged conditions of displacement and draws upon ethnographic research among urban Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Empirical examples show how the digital connectivity that technologies enable provides additional spaces and means for navigating refugees’ lives and negotiating their rights but interact with prolonged legal and social uncertainties and intersect with other characteristics and values around for instance nationalism, gender, and class.
Appointments, Awards & Misc.
I am member of the Working Group Archiving and Documentation of History of Forced Migration and Refugees (ADHFMR), which is part of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) and selected as member of the Forced Displacement Workshop series for Junior Scholar, hosted by the Refugee Hub and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) at the University of Ottawa.
I have received several awards and funding for my research, including a highly competitive PhD College of Social Science Studentship at the University of Leicester (2013) and a scholarship by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for research on access to sexual and reproductive health rights for Sudanese refugee women residing in Egypt (2008).
I have organised several international workshops and conferences for which I obtained funding. I was PhD-representative of my Graduate School and editor of its online peer-reviewed post graduate journal.