Migrant shoes and forced walking in children’s literature about refugees: material testimony and embodied simulation

Arizpe, E. (2019) Migrant shoes and forced walking in children’s literature about refugees: material testimony and embodied simulation. Migration Studies, (doi:10.1093/migration/mnz047) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Increasing numbers of children’s books on the topic of refugees are appearing in publishers’ catalogues around the world, raising awareness of diverse contexts of forced migration and of the hardships faced by children and their families in this situation. Yet, few studies have analysed in depth how aesthetic and literary strategies work to engage readers with the refugee experience in these well-intentioned attempts. Drawing on a corpus of refugee texts which draw attention to the material, the corporeal and the symbolic aspects of shoes and forced walking, in this article, I look at materiality and mobility (or immobility) and analyse how text and image create three main points of connection between the narrative and the reader: appropriate footwear; physical discomfort/pain and what I have termed as ‘the chronotope of forced migration’. I discuss how calling attention to these connections is used as a strategy to create an ‘embodied simulation’ (Bergen 2016) which encourages readers to ‘walk in refugee shoes’ and adopt a more empathetic stance. Examining these strategies shows how it is possible to engender an understanding of the refugee situation through text and/or image in ways that allow a level of emotional engagement even when young readers have not experienced these circumstances directly. Understanding how these aesthetic and literacy strategies work can help to support the claims made for the role of children’s literature in fostering empathy as well as the pedagogical use of this literature by teachers and other professionals.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Arizpe, Professor Evelyn
Authors: Arizpe, E.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:Migration Studies
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:2049-5838
ISSN (Online):2049-5846
Published Online:26 October 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Author
First Published:First published in Migration Studies 2019
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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