Ph.D. Candidate Laila Omar, on "Listening in Arabic"

February 14, 2020 by Jada Charles

Ph.D. candidate Laila Omar co-authored and published an article in Meridian, entitled "Listening in Arabic: Feminist Research with Syrian Refugee Mothers". The article takes a feminist approach to research and is highly conscious of the unequal relations between women at the intersection of class, race, citizenship status as well as several other categories that represent asymmetrical power. Moreover, the authors also offer excerpts in Arabic and English from participants' narratives to give nuance to multiple forms of expression. Therefore, all in all, the authors are deeply reflective of how a feminist approach highly shaped and influenced their research.

Laila Omar is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Sociology, University of Toronto. Her main research interests include Education Policy, Immigrant and Refugee Integration, International Development and Middle East Studies.

We have included the citation and abstract below. The full text of the article can be accessed through Meridian here.

Neda Maghbouleh, Laila Omar, Melissa A. Milkie, Ito Peng. (2019). "Listening in Arabic: Feminist Research with Syrian Refugee Mothers" Meridians, 18 (2): 482–507. 

This article reflects upon three developments emergent from a feminist approach in research with Syrian newcomer mothers in Toronto, Canada. First, a feminist approach shapes how the authors build their research team and facilitate internal meetings as a diverse, multigenerational group open to learning from others. Second, a feminist approach requires that the authors center mothers’ words through the critical practice of ensuring shared Arabic language and local knowledge in the research process. The authors offer excerpts in Arabic and English from participants’ narratives to describe how giving nuance to multiple forms of expression is key to a feminist practice of translation. Third, the authors describe how this approach opens their project to involve a range of participatory-action activities driven by the voices and desires of participants. The authors end by summarizing their ethical and methodological practices in light of inequalities at the intersection of citizenship status, class, nation, race, and other categories of asymmetrical power. These inequalities shape the authors’ attempts to reorganize conventional participant-researcher and student-faculty dynamics in their work together.