Marsden grant to support groundbreaking study on NZ refugees

06 November 2015
Dr Jay Marlowe

Dr Jay Marlowe has received a Marsden grant to continue his extensive research into the resettlement and experiences of refugees in New Zealand.

Jay is based in the faculty’s school of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work. He was notified about about his success on Monday, after applying for the highly competitive Marsden grant in February.

The Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, is recognised as the blue ribbon standard for research funding and this is the first time that a refugee-focused study has been awarded a grant with funding of this scale.

He is one of 28 Marsden grant recipients from the University - and the only one from the Faculty of Education of Social Work - this year.

“As a researcher, this is a major career-defining moment and also great recognition for the importance of research with refugees”, Jay says.

“I have already received many congratulations from friends, family and colleagues and their ongoing support has played a significant part for the project’s success. It takes a village to make a Marsden!”

Titled, “Resettled but not reunited: refugees and transnational belonging through digital media”, Jay’s study will focus on how refugees can now freely (re)engage with their global networks as increasingly affordable and accessible Internet streaming transcends well-defined territorial borders with overseas family and friends.

“The research will provide new knowledge about how resettled refugees reconnect with their transnational networks through social media,” Jay says.

“It will provide analysis on the capacities (and limitations) for creating and maintaining social relationships when physical reunion with loved ones is not possible, particularly where there is a significant level of instability and uncertainty involved.

Less than one percent of the world’s refugees will have opportunities to resettle in countries such as New Zealand. So it is important to understand the ways that they meaningfully reconnect and interact with the 99 percent who were left behind.

As refugees undertake 'digital-unification' with transnational networks and remain engaged in their home-country affairs, it is not known whether such digital portals impede or enhance social integration and citizenship experiences in their new settlement country.

The Marsden grant provides $300,000 in funding over three years. Incorporating an innovative participant-centred design, Jay will use online methods with 16 resettled refugees living in New Zealand (from Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma and Colombia) and their transnational networks over an 18-month time period to understand the ways they digitally reconnect with friends and family across distance through social media.

As the principal investigator (PI), Jay will recruit and train these 16 New Zealand-based refugee peer researchers to reflect and report upon the ways that they engage with their transnational family and friendship networks.

“These four countries represent where some of the highest numbers of refugees currently originate globally. Each peer researcher will recruit up to eight of their transnational networks as additional participants,” Jay says.

The current global refugee crisis highlights the need for people to stay in touch with family both back home and in their adopted country.

The groundbreaking study of refugees in a digital age provides original and timely contributions relating to the strategic and inventive ways they sustain meaningful social interaction and belonging within and across national borders.


Read an opinion piece written by Jay Marlowe and Rachel Bogen
Asylum Discourse in New Zealand: Moral Panic and a Culture of Indifference