What is it about?

Even as Europe celebrated smartphone use by refugees, Syrian Kurds fleeing to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq often used 2G technology. Upon arrival, they became asylum seekers and experienced distance from the host community, despite shared Kurdish identity. Their complex situation can be understood as the result of several factors, including ethnicity and language.

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Why is it important?

The findings outline here suggest that media and scholarly attention to Syrian refugees may, in often being focused on Europe, overlooked the situation in regional havens such as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The problem is compounded if researchers are set on tracking specific devices, like smartphones, rather than taking an interest in the people themselves and the regional histories informing their identities, experiences leading to displacement, and efforts to fashion lives in host communities.


This publication draws upon years of research in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where I had the privilege to talk to Syrian refugees about their lives and experiences. It uses my background as a literacy studies scholar to push back against media-centered views that I feel leave much to be desired when it comes to the historical, cultural, and political situation compelling forced migration. The piece draws upon a feminist theory, intersectionality, to discuss the vulnerability experienced by Syrian refugees. Above all, this paper honors a promise I made to the people I met in the KRI to try teach others what they so patiently taught me.

Jordan Hayes
University of Pittsburgh

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Trajectories of belonging and enduring technology: 2G phones and Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, European Journal of Communication, November 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0267323119886168.
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