Literacy Learning in Migrants' Homelands


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the question questão de pesquisa что мы хотим узнать

232 million people currently live outside the country of their birth (UN 2013), yet many more remain in homelands. What are the implications of extended familial separation for literacy in immigrants’ home communities?

the early findings os primeiros resultados  ранние находки 

Using a unique tri-national design, this study develops a theory of transnational family literacy focused on migrants’ home communities. Contrary to concerns about “brain drain” (the mass emigration of skilled adults), I find that emigration can actually contribute to homeland education. Specifically, in order to communicate with loved ones, migrants laboring abroad often remit writing practices and technologies (such as laptops, webcams, letters, emails, texts, and ways of communicating) to family members back home.  

Based on 70 literacy history interviews and 6 months of ethnographic observation on three different continents, this study shows how such "writing remittances" are learned, adapted, and further circulated for personal and professional gain. 
Put simply, when people move, so too do literacy technologies and knowledge, which promote transnational literacy learning.

the communities as comunidades сообщества  

This study documents a broad range of migration-driven literacy learning through work with migrants’ family members in two differently positioned homelands--one impoverished community, Daugavpils, Latvia, and one middle class community, Jaú, Brazil. It also addresses migration-driven literacy learning in one host-country migrant community, Madison, Wisconsin.

Both are ordinary, mid-sized towns, situated a four-hour bus ride from their states’ capitals. But they differ in their relationship to migration: Due to the recent global recession, Latvia’s emigration rate (-4) is devastatingly high, comparable to many places with longstanding conflict (Population Reference Bureau, 2012). In Jaú, Brazil, in contrast, many residents are riding the larger national trend of middle-class growth, so most plan to stay (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 2013). Migration drives literacy learning in both these midsized towns on opposite sides of the globe.

This study also engages with a third community, this time a host country community of Latin American and Eastern European migrants in Madison, Wisconsin—an educationally and technologically saturated city, with a population that is 19% foreign born. While most local literacy education programs for migrant workers emphasize national assimilation or job-readiness, this study finds that Wisconsin migrants’ literacy goals are often transnational, as they support homeland loved ones.

Daugavpils, Latgale, Latvia

Jaú, São Paulo, Brazil

Madison, Wisconsin, United States

the economics and emotion of homeland literacy learning 
a economia a emoção da alfabetização  экономические и эмоциональные затраты в обучение грамоте  

To account for migration-driven literacy learning in these diverse homeland and host country communities, this study adapts the migration studies term, “social remittances.”[1] The concept of “writing remittances” shows how literacy can accrete (or lose) value as it circulates transnationally (Blommaert, 2008) and as it is “invested” in work, in social lives, and in schools. This study traces the economic and emotional circuits (Zelizer, 2006) of literacy investment and exchange to show how global inequality can shape intimate interpersonal communications across borders, promoting digital literacy learning. 

[1] Social remittances are “Local-level, migration driven forms of cultural diffusion” (Levitt, 1998, p. 926; Levitt and Lamba-Nieves, 2011).