Connection, Identity, and Agency in Displaced/Migrant Women’s Communicative Engagements: The Case of Anglophone Cameroonian Women in Virginia and Maryland, USA.

Kellogg Institute Graduate Research Grants
Grant Year

Extant migration/displacement and conflict literature increasingly centers diasporic males using new media to intervene in their origin countries’ sociopolitical spheres. However, women are seldom mentioned as agentive stakeholders, more often cast as passive/powerless victims. My project reexamines this narrative by investigating how the agentive communicative practices of Anglophone Cameroonian female refugees, asylum seekers, and voluntary migrants in the USA affect their roles, identities, relationships, and involvement in armed conflict in Cameroon. The women's use of new media provides avenues to better understand women’s indispensable albeit mostly unnoticed interventions within broader political landscapes and social movements, how diasporic communities build/maintain influence across geographical borders, how historically underrepresented groups harness available resources to subvert the status quo, and how communication within a predominantly democratic society impacts sociocultural notions of womanhood and access to traditionally male-reserved spaces. I combine ethnography, multimodal social semiotics, and social network analysis to effectively address the project’s multidimensionality.

Kefen Talking to a Cameroonian woman in Virginia about life in the USA
Kefen Covering a Cameroonian Jubilee Celebration Mass at Montgomery County, Maryland