Maureen Klein ’13 presented again on a different issue, but still in her study of sociology and anthropology. Klein looks at refugees leaving conflict in their own countries and meeting conflict again in their new refugee living conditions. Clarkston, GA has refugees from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Vietnam and many others — several foreign languages are spoken in this community and it has been called “a modern day Ellis island.” Klein studied the experience of Clarkston refugees and their satisfaction with living in Clarkston, potential conflicts between other refugees and violence, and a desire to return to their homeland. Klein worked with this refugee community during her time at Agnes Scott College and wanted to study the refugee community more deeply as part of her senior research.
Discussing her methods, Maureen spoke of establishing verbal consent, using a voice recorder, recording using a notebook, a snowball method of referring potential interview candidates, and an overall message of care in handling the interviews.
Using the Prezi format of visual aid, Klein displayed her process through a timeline model, showing the sequence of her interview process. Six informal interviews of ten basic questions propelled her research findings. Klein questioned her subjects’ employment, sense of security, and satisfaction in Clarkston. Clarkston is a main destination for refugees in the United States with low income housing and access to Atlanta for jobs.
In 2010, the “Safer Clarkston Partnership” study was begun to explore the percentage of the Clarkston community who identified as victims of a crime. The subjects surveyed in the study conveyed tension between ethnic groups. Refugee’s unfamiliarity with the community often leads to crime, inhibiting a refugee’s willingness to fully integrate into the new community.
Klein discussed different theories to explain why these findings could be. A Social Dominance Theory, a Realistic Conflict Theory, and a Social Identity Theory can explain the Clarkston experience. Klein notes that the Social Identity Theory did not mesh with her findings completely as many refugees enjoy socializing with their identity groups and are not hindered by this.
Klein told stories relayed to her by her interview subjects, many very tragic stories of violence. One Burmese man told his story of being beaten by a group of eight other men and not calling the police for fear of his poor English, the police, and his lack of Medicaid coverage (although Klein notes that in the eight months after arriving with refugee status, health coverage is provided for the residents of Clarkston).
Maureen Klein seeks to continue her study of refugees in the future and expand her research.