Social Identities and Difference

Deborah was a Principal Investigator (with Professor Gill Valentine) on an ESRC funded research project exploring Post Conflict Identities: Practices and Affiliations of Somali Asylum Seeker Children.This project was one of 25 projects funded by the ESRC's Identities and Social Action Programme and explored the contemporary identity practices of post-conflict refugee and asylum seeker children in the UK. Drawing on case study research with young Somalis aged between 11 and 18 living in Sheffield and Aarhus Denmark, the project sought to understand the complex ways that these children's identities are spatially constituted through their diverse histories of mobility and accomplished in specific geographical sites. In addition to generating academic publications, the research findings were also fed into high level policy consultations, for example:

  • Research findings were included in a collective Identities Programme briefing at No 10. to inform Tony Blair’s speech on ‘Multiculturalism and Integration’ (8/12/2006).
  • Research findings contributed to a collective ESRC Identities Programme submission to the Commission for Integration and Cohesion.
  • The research was used in the implementation of Citizens Advice’s Equality and Diversity strategy.
  • The research was presented at the former Commission for Racial Equality. The audience included: the Head of Public policy at CRE; the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Head of the Secretariat of the Commission on Cohesion and Integration, and Head of Strategy at the then Department for Education and Skills (21/3/2007).

As part of the Identities and Social Action Programme, the photographer Chris Clunn was embedded within the research team as part of a Visualising Identities project. In 2009, Deborah organised an exhibition of his work with young Somalis as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences.

Deborah has supervised 3 PhD students working in this area, one of whom is currently registered.

ESRC Visualising Identities

ESRC Visualising Identities (Copyright Chris Clunn)