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Bishop, Sarah (2014) “IT’S JUST WHAT WE SAW IN THE MOVIE”: REFUGEES ENCOUNTER U.S. MEDIA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation considers how refugees encounter, interpret, and use American media before,
during, and after their relocation to the United States. An examination of insights provided by
seventy-four oral history interviews with refugees from Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), Iraq and
Somalia, as well as twelve interviews with resettlement administrators in the four states that
accepted the most refugees in 2012—Texas, California, New York and Pennsylvania—reveals
that American-made films, television programs, websites, government-produced orientation texts,
and news journalism are meaningful components of refugee relocation to the U.S. Supported by
methodologies of ethnography and rhetorical analysis, this oral history project considers the
American media that refugees encounter long before their relocation, and how they may
understand these media as indicators, exaggerations, or misleading evidence of what the U.S. is
like. The narrators discuss the types of media and information they were given during the weeks
leading up to their relocation, and how this new knowledge may or may not have informed their
move to the U.S. This project also explores the kinds of media that are made available to
refugees in the weeks immediately following their arrival in the U.S., either during federallymandated
post-arrival orientations or in individual pursuits. This work advances the notion that
resettlement is a long-term, ongoing process as it considers how refugees use U.S. media long
after their resettlement. This project attends to underprivileged immigration and problematizes
sanguine American immigration mythologies while simultaneously providing understanding that
can be incorporated into resettlement agencies’ future planning and education initiatives. The
object is thus both theoretical and pragmatic; in addition to contributing to the existing research a
deeper understanding of the ways media serve as tools or obstacles for enculturation throughout
refugee relocation, this dissertation also provides pertinent, useful insights for the directors of
future refugee orientation education.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Committee MemberMalin, Brentbmalin@pitt.eduBMALIN
Committee MemberKuchinskaya, Olgaokuchins@pitt.eduOKUCHINS
Committee MemberOno,
Date: 17 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 July 2014
Approval Date: 17 September 2014
Submission Date: 22 July 2014
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 357
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: media, refugees, oral history, forced migration
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2014 15:45
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2019 05:15


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