On the border between educational studies and anthropology: an ethnographic study of Arab immigrant mothers in Italy

7th November 2018 : 12:45 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Qualitative Methods Hub

Speaker: Alessandra Mussi, PhD student in Education and Communication Sciences & Riccardo Massa, Department of Human Sciences and Education, University of Milano Bicocca

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room A

Convener: Victoria Elliott

The presentation intends to reflect on the usefulness of the ethnographic method within the educational studies (Gobbo, 2000; LeVine & New, 2008; Rogoff, 2003), deepening some methodological aspects of contemporary anthropology and exploring their implications in the field of educational research.

The analysis will develop from the review of the participant observation (Tedlock, 1991), now asserted in anthropological tradition but often interpreted literally from the educational studies, to the perspectives of dialogic anthropology (Clifford & Marcus, 1986), with its resonances in the educational concept of reflexivity (Dewey, 1933), and the reflection on the role of the researcher (Geertz, 1983; Goody, 1997).

This theoretical argument will be supported by an example of empirical research based on the use of ethnographic method in educational research[1]. This research intends to explore in particular the experience of women as parents in Arab immigrant communities in Italy. Immigrant mothers, especially those from North Africa and the Middle East, have low access to social care and assistance services (UN Women, 2015-2016), instead of efficient parenting programs that could allow them to grow as women and as mothers.The research is based on the use of ethnographic method combined with biographical interviews (Nurse, 2018).

The aim is to demonstrate that a scientific application of anthropological approaches to educational discipline is fruitful,in particular in an area of work with contemporary relevance of issues related to migratory phenomenon and gender issues.

Alessandra Mussi is a Ph.D. student in Education and Communication Sciences, at Bicocca University in Milan, Italy. She did her master degree in Cultural Anthropology on women’s participation in Arab Spring in Egypt in 2011.Her research interests are now in: intercultural education, migrant parenthood, Arab communities, gender issues, biographical methods and ethnography. She is currently a coordinator of the H2020 ISOTIS project “Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Society” qualitative study in Italy.She has recently been involved in the project “M.O.S.T. of Pioltello. Migration Over the Satellite Town of Pioltello”, as field research coordinatorof the Milan Bicocca team.

[1]This research is developed in strong connection with the H2020 project ISOTIS – Inclusive education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Society.