University of Tasmania
Modarres_Tabatabaei_whole_thesis.pdf (4.76 MB)

Exposing and visualising the process of social engagement : refugee women exchanging in liminal space

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posted on 2023-05-28, 11:50 authored by Modarres Tabatabaei, M
Establishing an identity builds a feeling that we belong to a society, defining and ensuring our social connection and offering a way of coping with our emotions. However, the influence of globalisation, digitalisation and international mobility, as well as the intersectionality of ethnicity, cultures and gender, change personal and societal notions of identity and the meaning of belonging. Theoretical arguments have revealed how the static identity has changed towards flexibility and fluidity in the late post-modern world, whereby identity adapts to the latest situation of world social challenges. As such, the personal and social sense of identity has become exposed to different social structures, gender roles and ethnicities, with new options that facilitates a flexible/fluid accumulated identity. In this research, these are exemplified in the life of adult migrants/refugees who are subjected to two asymmetrical cultural and social contexts ‚ÄövÑvÆ Western and Islamic social constructions and norms ‚ÄövÑvÆ which means they live in a state of liminality and in-betweenness. This creative practice-based research explored, exposed and symbolised the determination of identity or self as a concept in the liminal space of dissimilar socio-cultures and gender roles as a lived experience. This has been achieved through observation of a group of Afghan migrant/refugee women's social interaction embedded in a community of practice (CoP) as a passage between static communities with low changeability and societal convention in the context of now living in Western communities demonstrating late post-modernity. Through incorporating the CoP as a method and focusing on women's social activities, the concept of home and home performative tasks (cooking and crafts) were utilised. In my creative work, I also introduce the circle form to symbolise a connection point between cultures, cultural manner, and the way cultures are transferred among the group, and for how a dynamic and fluid identity is flexible in the context of socio-cultural changes. Familiar cooking materials such as salt, sugar, spices and herbs and their associated smells were selected as an artistic drawing tool with which to connect cultural memories and to act as a reminder of the cyclical nature of women's domestic tasks. The main outputs from this creative project are abstract artefacts with metaphorical-symbolism of the deformed circular form in two different technical arrangements of installations: the floor installation and the mute video installation. The message conveyed through installations materialises and symbolises the transience of identity, which allows adult women migrants/refugees to flexibly socially interact with members of their new community; starting a new lifestyle and connecting fluidly with an unprecedented future. This study strengthens the idea of developing a mutual understanding between migrants/refugees and Australian residents by exposing and visualising the challenges in the formation of a sense of belonging in liminal space, as created within the intersection of social groups and institutions. The contribution of this study, by symbolically representing the liminality and fluidity of being a migrant/refugee in a different culture, especially one where Islamophobic attitudes may be evident or growing, goes some way towards enhancing our awareness and understanding of Muslim migrants. Note: The term 'migrants/refugees' refers to legal migrants, refugees and former refugees in the context of this research, to prevent any discrimination, patronisation, and other political disrespect


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