Elizabeth B. Raposa

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20082009 Forum on Change

Elizabeth B. Raposa

Comp Lit, Psychology

College '10

Trauma and Metamorphosis: The Narratives of African Refugees in Philadelphia (Joint Project)

with Serena S. Stein

Beyond the terror and trauma of conflict, adolescent refugees face numerous challenges when adapting to critical lifestyle changes in a new country, grappling with destabilized notions of self and world. This project draws on in-depth interviews and the literature of refugee narratives to explore issues of individual identity, as well as shared patterns of experience among young adult refugees currently living in West Philadelphia. Exposure to violence and trauma organizes thought along dichotomies of past and present, homeland and country, and prior and possible selves. We engage the ways that traumatic events are narrated and incorporated into the sense of self, how refugee collectives are organized and interpreted, and, moreover, how exile and relocation constitute a transformative event.