Geography Professor Karen Culcasi, of West Virginia University, is coming to Grand Rapids Community College Tuesday to speak on Syrian refugees, and more specifically the issues facing women in Jordan, where she has done extensive fieldwork and research.
“This is a population that is underrepresented in the media and scholarly work,” Culcasi said, describing the women she interviewed in Jordan.
Because of the refugee crisis in Syria, Culcasi said, many women have been breaking “patriarchal norms” and are working to sustain their families because many men are either injured, deceased, or fighting in the war in Syria. Additionally, men are not allowed to work in Jordan, but women can circumvent – volunteering for a stipend.
Culcasi spent eight weeks in Jordan in the summer of 2014 – and spent another two weeks the following summer – interviewing women.
“This work has been incredibly emotional,” Culcasi said, commenting on the two papers she is producing out of this work. One, is about refugee women working in Jordan, and another, is about the western media’s take on the Syrian refugee crisis.
“It’s a huge falsity about refugees and terrorism (and them) being a burden,” Culcasi said. “These people are so capable, and so able to be successful.”
Culcasi said she hopes the audience walks away thinking more about humanizing refugees.
“Once you begin to see each other as humans, the barriers and stereotypes come shattering down.”
Culcasi will speak at 6:30 p.m. March 28 in room 168 of GRCC’s Applied Technology Center Auditorium, 151 Fountain St NE.