This dissertation study investigated how Somali refugee families living in Nairobi, Kenya experience and negotiate their religious and secular identities through literacies. This study provided detailed experiences and reflections of individuals––children and parents about their literacies. The children in this study learned to read in English and Kiswahili in school, and they learned to read in classical Arabic—three languages they do not speak at home. The study explored Qur’anic schools which literacy researchers have long overlooked, yet these are spaces that shape many children’s rich multilingual, multiliterate, and multiscriptual repertoires while, at the same time, shaping and negotiating their fluid identities. Three themes, literacy as social practice, liturgical literacy, and funds of knowledge offered a complimentary lens through which this community was studied. Literacy, as a social practice, demonstrates how certain social groups use specific socially constructed literacies within specific contexts to achieve various goals. The concept of liturgical literacy foregrounds how minority languages, such as Classical Arabic, have great symbolic value for communities, including those who neither speak nor understand the language, while funds of knowledge conceptualize the knowledge and related activities present in homes that have the potential for contributing positively to children’s learning. Using the ethnographic methodology, this inquiry spanned six sites and focused on participants during their interactions with literacy, orality, and text for eight months. The study occurred in three homes, two Dugsis, and one school site. A rich description of the community was achieved by presenting language and literacy practices in a multi-sited ethnography. This dissertation ultimately also offers contemporary relevance: investigating a community whose literacies are invisible, minoritized, and marginalized, and aimed to inform educational researchers, policymakers, and teachers who are devoted to rethinking what counts as literacy, for whom, in what contexts, and with what kinds of consequences. In a time of increased movement of people across borders, this research has important implications for teacher preparation, theories of language learning, and literacy education.
- Literacy across Learning Contexts and Languages: A Study of Three Somali Families Living in Nairobi, Kenya
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- Partial requirement for: Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2023
- Field of study: Curriculum and Instruction