In this edition of story behind the research, we introduce you to Bayan Bilal Arouri! From role playing as a scientist when she was younger, to actually doing research on decolonizing the understanding of gender among refugee communities in Lebanon and Jordan!
UniPID had a chance to ask a few questions to Bayan about her research, interests, and sources of inspiration and this is what she told us:
I am Bayan Bilal Arouri; I am a doctoral researcher at the Peace and Conflict Research programme at Tampere University. I have a bachelor’s degree in Applied English Linguistics and a master`s degree in Human Rights and Human Development. I am from Jordan, and I moved to Finland last September. I came to Finland for the first time in 2019 before COVID-19 hit the world! I was fortunate to study for a semester at Tampere University as an Erasmus plus exchange student. I am the first Jordanian exchange student who got the opportunity to study at Tampere University. My experience gave me a precious opportunity to learn more about the Finnish culture, Finnish people, and the education system. After that insightful experience, I realized that I would like to continue my postgraduate studies here. Previously, I have worked as a research associate in the Center for Strategic Studies CSS in the Gender Barometer project. Besides, I work as a freelance researcher and fact-checker for research-based podcasts in Arabic and English.
Since my childhood, I always pretended in my role-playing time to work on mainly scientific experiments as I used to watch in the cartoon series. I deliberately put many papers on my desk as if I was immersed in work. Now, I have a real unorganized desk and dozens of tasks, but not part of the playing time. Growing up, I discovered that I prefer social sciences to natural sciences. I was passionate about researching empirical topics during my studies and work, so I researched mainly human rights issues and gender-based violence. In my M.A. thesis, I discussed the coherence of the UN response toward the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. This is briefly how I ended up being a researcher.
Currently, I am working on my Ph.D research titled 'Decolonizing the understanding of gender among refugee communities in Lebanon and Jordan". My research focuses on the intersections of forced displacement and gender, namely on the processes of gender stereotyping in academia and the humanitarian agencies' works with Syrian refugees. In addition to these communities' own ways of articulating and producing gender. My research came from the need for decolonized qualitative studies to understand more about gendered challenges, epistemic violence, tracking forms of violence, living peace within refugees' everyday experiences. Consequently, the findings can be reflected later in designing projects and governance policies in this forced displacement and mobility context.
Conversely, the ordinary people whose fights for justice are everyday acts inspire me
My story and my lifestyle are never separated from my research. I am originally a Palestinian refugee, and my grandparents always told me stories about their refuge experience as they arrived in Jordan around seventy years ago. Alongside, I grew up in Jordan, a hosting community with millions of refugees from various conflict zones. I lived through a sense of shared responsibility, and I realized early on that a refuge's experience is life-changing where each story has its own challenges. Besides, my previous work experiences enabled me to conduct fieldwork with refugees through a gender lens. I met Syrian refugees as part of the sample, and their narratives made me more interested to understand their gender realities. Therefore, I decided to conduct research in a field I am passionate about and connected to my academic background, my qualification in conflict, gender, refugees, and humanitarian work. I think this is how my lifestyle influences and drives my research. On the other hand, my research impacts my lifestyle to be more flexible to redefine my thoughts and re-correct myself regularly. Also, to be more critical about what I read and face. So, it shapes, to some extent, my current lifestyle.
Regarding what inspires me, I do not conceptualize inspiration as something that should come out of huge events or well-known characters. Conversely, the ordinary people whose fights for justice are everyday acts inspire me. I get inspired by women who illuminated feminism without knowing any theories; all women I met in my journey inspire me, especially my grandmothers who were great symbols of powerful refugee women.
My research interests are critical humanitarianism, development, post-colonialism, everyday peace, refugee studies, gender-based violence, solidarity, mobility. However, to be updated in my field, I keep reading, joining talks and seminars for the pioneer in my fields. I like listening to podcasts, watching light series, having long walks, blogging, and taking care of my plants in my free time. Hence, I would like to recommend three podcasts related to my research themes and interest: Gender Troubles by Emma Austin and Eva Espenshade, Decolonization in Action by Edna Bonhomme and Kristyna Comer, and Refugee`s Stories podcast. There is excellent literature in each episode of these.
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Story behind the research is a blog series dedicated to highlight and showcase UniPID DocNet members and their research. Read more about DocNet here!
Photo credits: Md. Hasanuzzaman Himel, 2022 on Unsplash