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Laura Partain, “Race and Representation of Syrian, Palestinian, and Norwegian Refugees in the News”

Thursday, October 15, 2020 @ 5:00 pm 6:30 pm EDT

[Streamed live at https://mit.zoom.us/j/94087151099.]

Photo of Laura Partain

This talk will discuss contemporary US feelings towards Syrian and Palestinian refugee resettlement and expectations for “appropriate” refugee attitudes, emotions, and behaviors. Laura Partain’s findings come out of a generalizable experimental analysis conducted with native-born US citizens in December of 2019. Putting these views into an historical context, she explains that what might immediately be perceived as unexpected experimental results are actually the logical  evolution of the 20th and 21st century US racial episteme: US participants are more likely to support the resettlement of darker phenotype refugees, but hold more amicable views of lighter phenotype refugees. Moreover, participants’ association with the Christian faith identity was the most reliable predictor of anti-immigrant views. During this discussion, Laura will tie her research into ongoing conversations about nationalism and national belonging, as well as the ways in which social-expectations placed on displaces peoples can limit their access to civic, medical, and everyday resources.

Laura Partain is a Visiting Lecturer in Civic and Global Media within MIT’s CMS/W. She researches complex news and social media effects on marginalized communities’ access to socio-political, material, and medical resources. Her scholarship is located at the interstices of citizenship status and national belonging. Laura’s work uses experimental analyses to develop media interventions for prejudice reduction and focuses on the media effects of racial, religious, and ethnic identity representations. Laura has worked with communities in Syria, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, and Iran, but also works with these communities who are forcibly displaced in diaspora (i.e. refugees, asylum seekers) as well as with Arab and Muslim Americans more broadly. Her published research includes articles in the Journal of Applied Communication Research and Communication Methods and Measures, among others.