Mirjam Abigail Twigt
I study how refugees and other migrants residing in prolonged precarious conditions of legal and social uncertainty 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 seeking refuge.
My research in the REF-ARAB project will focus on digital refugee lawyering. It aims to further comprehend the move towards technologies in humanitarian assistance for refugee protection. It seeks to understand the particular potentials and challenges for UNHCR personnel, for people working for local legal aid provision and/or with (I)NGOs, community leaders and, most important, for refugees themselves for securing rights. It considers how practices of digital lawyering work out in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). More than 98 % of all registered refugees in Iraq are based in this autonomous region. As of January 2020, UNHCR Iraq had registered 283,022 refugees of whom 247,770 are Syrian nationals. How does digital refugee lawyering interact with the actual experiences of refugees and other migrants residing in the KR-I in need of legal aid?
I hold a PhD in Media, Communication and Sociology from University of Leicester, UK and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), based at the British Institute of Amman in 2018 – 2019. The findings of my PhD and postdoctoral research are to be published in my forthcoming monograph on the roles of communication technologies in everyday experiences of Iraqi refugees residing in prolonged displacement in Amman, Jordan. The digital connectivity that technologies enable provides additional spaces and means for navigating refugees’ lives and negotiating their rights. But, as becomes evident by drawing upon empirical examples, digital practices interact with and potentially exacerbate vulnerabilities relating to one’s legal status and intersect with other characteristics and values around for instance nationalism, gender and class.