An Ethnographic Study of Deaf Refugees Seeking Asylum in Finland
1.1. Overview of Literature on Deaf Refugees
1.2. Multilingual and Multimodal Deaf Communities
2. Research Setting and Methodology
2.1. Participants of This Study
2.2. Interviewing and Observations
2.3. Analysis of the Data
3.1. Lonely and Isolated Life at Reception Centers
It hurts my heart, stomach and legs. I (only) think, sit and wait. It is horrible. You (Nina) have a husband and children around you. You are happy. (I am not). My wife and my children are not here. It hurts my heart. If they were here, I would be happy. You have a husband and children. You are happy. You understand. It is lovely. I feel anxious here. Our head is full of thinking.NABIL, Interview 2 (Spring 2016)
3.2. Many Vital Roles for Deaf Volunteers
“Don’t understand. I can’t read and write. I took pictures of a piece of paper and sent it to X (sign name of deaf volunteer). X explained and signed to me and I understood”.SARA, interview 1 (Spring 2016)
“We sat in a dining hall, where there were a lot of tables. We wanted to drink tea and there was a kitchen. In the kitchen there were young asylum seeker boys and I went there and asked them if they could boil hot water for us. I signed and gestured to them. They understood me well. I noticed that X (deaf asylum seeker) was ‘horrified’ when I signed to them and I did not feel ashamed. X had not talked with hearing asylum seekers before. When we got the tea to our table we talked about everything. X said that in X (his home country) they can’t sign freely and he was surprised that here it is OK to sign. I told him that in Finland we can sign freely anywhere, outside and inside. We do not need to be ashamed of using sign language. When we talked and signed, hearing asylum seekers watched us carefully. This was an interesting moment and X (deaf asylum seeker) had a realization and understood that he has a right to sign and use sign language freely”.(field note 29 October 2015)
3.3. Challenges in Communication during the Asylum Procedure
“I was frustrated that they could not understand me at first! I signed differently!”RAMI, interview 2 (Winter 2016)
“I don’t know if the person has the knowledge to say enough and affect the decision in a positive way with his story. This makes me really concerned.”(Worker at the reception center, spring 2016)
“At the reception center there was another (asylum seeker) who came from the same hometown in X (country of origin) as me. He got asylum fast! I was surprised and asked and wondered why, he did not lie. (…) we got a negative decision. Allah, we still hope. (…) He is hearing! He can speak. He can speak easily and powerfully. I can’t (speak). I am deaf and I have to repeat my signing many times and it is hard. Now it is going better (signing). I hope for the best.”RAMI, male participant, interview 3
“…before I could sign well in X (his home country of origin), but now when I talked with my family through live video conversations (on a mobile phone), I did not understand what they were signing. (…) Before I knew a lot, but not now. They (a deaf person in a store) sign and fingerspell something. I do not understand. I do not understand both (languages). (laughs)”.NABIL, Interview 2 (Spring 2016)
4. Discussion and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
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|Participant||Sex||Age (Approx.)||1. Interview||2. Interview||3. Interview|
|1. Sahar||F||30–40||March 2016||November 2016||May 2017|
|2. Khalid||M||40–50||March 2016||November 2016||May 2017|
|3. Qaseem||M||20–30||March 2016||December 2016||May 2017|
|4. Rami||M||30–40||March 2016||December 2016||May 2017|
|5. Nabil||M||40–50||October 2015||April 2016||-|
|6. Sara||F||30–40||March 2016||December 2016||-|
|7. Myron||M||40–50||November 2015||May 2017||-|
|8. Jamila||F||40–50||November 2015||-||-|
|9. Lufti||M||50–60||May 2016||-||-|
|10. Amina||F||40–50||May 2016||-||-|
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Sivunen, N. An Ethnographic Study of Deaf Refugees Seeking Asylum in Finland. Societies 2019, 9, 2. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010002
Sivunen N. An Ethnographic Study of Deaf Refugees Seeking Asylum in Finland. Societies. 2019; 9(1):2. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010002Chicago/Turabian Style
Sivunen, Nina. 2019. "An Ethnographic Study of Deaf Refugees Seeking Asylum in Finland" Societies 9, no. 1: 2. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010002