'If you write poems, it’s like a crime there': an intersectional perspective on migration, literacy practices, and identity curation

Virginie Thériault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article offers an alternative point of view on the perspectives that large-scale literacy surveys provide on refugee women by presenting the case of Darya, a young Afghan woman who moved to Canada as a refugee in 2009. It also presents how a community-based organisation for young people addressed Darya’s literacy and identity curation practices, and life situation in their everyday activities. The original study this paper is based on adopted an ethnographic and participatory approach. For the purpose of this paper, only the data relating to Darya was retained and analysed using a thematic analysis approach. The findings illustrate how exploring the intersections between gender, race, and religion is a fruitful lens to adopt in order to understand young refugee and migrant women’s literacy learning and practices. The data suggest that the community-based organisation provided a positive space not just for literacy learning but also for important identity work. It did so by 1) grounding its activities in young people’s lives and practices, 2) aiming to foster confidence building and autonomy, 3) being open to multilingualism and multimodality, and 4) focusing on young people’s futures. The findings also illuminate the need to train youth workers about cultural responsiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-419
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2019


  • refugee women
  • new literacy studies
  • identity curation
  • intersectionality
  • community-based organisations

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