Professor Neda Maghbouleh interviewed about Syrian refugee families by Canadian Family

Neda MaghboulehCanadian Family magazine recently ran an article featuring an interview with Professor Neda Maghbouleh. Professor Maghbouleh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the Mississauga campus. The article asks how Canadians can help Syrian refugee families as they settle in Canada. Professor Maghbouleh’s answers draw from the SSHRC-funded study she is currently conducting with Professors Melissa Milkie and Ito Peng that investigates the mental health challenges faced by Syrian refugee parents.

The full interview is available on the Canadian Family website. We have posted an excerpt of it here.

Making Canada a Home: How Canadians Can Help Syrian Families

Syrian families face cultural, financial, and emotional challenges as newcomers to Canada. Here’s how everyday Canadians can help.

Many parents know the difficulties that come with moving. Leaving behind friends, family, and neighbours can be hard for kids, and at times even heartbreaking. Meanwhile, adjusting to life in a new home can be a long process, taking anywhere from months to years.

Add to these factors a mix of cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers, and migrating families face a unique set of challenges. Yet Syrian families have shouldered theses same burdens as refugees to Canada, and continue to do so, according to a study from the University of Toronto.

A number of these challenges stem from a lack of social resources. Since the launch of Canada’s resettlement program in 2015, sociologists Neda Maghbouleh, Ito Peng, and Melissa Milkie have interviewed Syrian mothers on how immigration has impacted their mental health. Many Syrian mothers expressed feelings of social isolation, with those under government sponsorships describing fewer social ties.

Over time, these feelings of isolation can take an emotional toll. “Uprooting your life to move from one home to another is already a very stressful life event,” Maghbouleh explains. “But for refugees, a sense of control over their destiny can feel elusive or undermined in a new land. So it’s crucial for Canadians to respect and support Syrian newcomers’ sense of agency, purpose, and self-confidence in the process of resettlement.

Read the full article.

3 Sociology professors look into parenting stress experienced by Syrian refugees

Melissa MilkieNeda MaghboulehIto PengWith fully 60 percent of Canada’s recent influx of Syrian refugees being under the age of 15, this group is largely composed of children and the adults who care for them. The parents or primary caregivers of these children face both the enormous tasks involved in acclimatizing themselves to a new culture and environment and the strains linked to the financial support, schooling, and care of children. Funded by SSHRC as part of a special call for research into the experiences of the Syrian refugees, research by Professors Melissa Milkie, Neda Maghbouleh and Ito Peng seeks to understand the parenting stress that these new Canadians experience.

The three professors recently presented some of the early findings at the Metropolis conference in Montreal. Reporting on 43 wave 1 interviews, preliminary findings show three major stressors that Syrian refugee mothers experience. First, a major stressor for most Syrian refugee mothers upon resettlement is the crystallization of deep losses – such as the separation from close family members like their own parents, who are unable, unwilling or are not chosen to be resettled in Canada. The extended family is thus not able to support mothers in the ways they may have in the past. Second, school stressors exist for some families, but are relatively minor and most often solved readily; and/or resources to solve school concerns are clear. Finally, although mothers feel a sense of mastery in their successful creation of physical safety for their children, they experience a powerful cultural stressor in their lack of control over their children’s distant but impending adulthood in a new land with different cultural standards and norms.

They will be presenting an invited panel at the Canadian Sociological Association meeting on May 31st.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh on NPR

Neda MaghboulehProfessor Neda Maghbouleh recently spoke on the NPR show Code Switch about why some people say Persian and some say Iranian.

Code Switch is a  podcast about race and identity. On April 19th, the show responded to the letters from their listeners. At minute 9:41, they called on Professor Maghbouleh to discuss the complications around the Iranian diaspora and racial or ethnic identity.

Listen to the show here.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh featured on UTM’s Research News site

The Research Office at the University of Toronto, Mississauga recently posted a profile of Professor Neda Maghbouleh, a sociologist specializing in race and ethnicity. The full profile is available here. The following is an excerpt:

Hitting Home

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – 4:35pm
Carla DeMarco
U of T Mississauga Sociology prof studies migration, minorities and moms’ groups.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh from UTM’s Department of Sociology says she is enjoying a sweet spot of satisfaction that she attributes to the string of successes she’s had of late: her first book, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian-Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, is being published by Stanford University Press and has been called “groundbreaking,” and the recently funded research projects she is working on have the potential for significant social impact.

“I feel like I am in the ‘pink cloud’ of happiness right now, where my new projects haven’t hit roadblocks yet,” says Maghbouleh, who is currently following three streams in her research.

First, Maghbouleh is embarking on a new collaboration with Professors Melissa Milkie (UTM) and Ito Peng (UTSG) with funds awarded this fall by a rapid response, targeted opportunity to study Syrian newcomers and integration.

This project is supported by a joint initiative through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Their research team will focus on assessing parenting and integration stress among Syrian newcomer parents whose children have integrated into local schools at the elementary- and secondary-school levels.

Read the full profile.

What happens when first-time mothers take maternity leave?

What happens when first-time mothers take maternity leave?

For one thing, they begin to socialize with each other. With months or years away from the workforce and a whole new identity as a parent, women often seek out groups where they share parenting-related knowledge and, in many cases, gain emotional and social support. The women benefit in obvious ways – they feel less isolated, they share knowledge and insights, and they experience mental and physical health benefits.

But the benefits may also reach beyond the individual.

A new research project undertaken by Professor Neda Maghbouleh will study the ways in which involvement in mothers’ groups affects civic engagement, and how this varies in different parts of the city and by different axes of inequality.

In Toronto, there are examples of mothers’ groups, initially formed for post-partum socialization, that engage in civic work like neighbourhood revitalization, refugee sponsorship, and local fundraising. Some of the groups are formally organized by provinces and local municipalities and led by public health nurses or social workers; others are formally or informally established among neighbours, library patrons, or local café “regulars.” In either case, they are deeply embedded in the local community.

Which might explain a growth of civic engagement.

It is unlikely, however, that the experience is uniform across the city. Social life in Toronto has increasingly polarized around axes of inequality like income/class, immigration status, and race/ethnicity/religion. Given rising levels of inequity in the city, any positive outcomes associated with mothers’ groups are likely to be deeply entwined with, and shaped by, social inequality

Professor Maghbouleh has recently received a Connaught New Researcher Award to fund the initial stages of this project. With this funding, she and a graduate student will map the formal and informal mothers’ groups in Toronto and conduct pilot interviews with a strategically sampled selection of the women in these groups.