Toward Rightful Literary Presence of African Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Vaughn W. M. Watson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Michigan State University

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
African immigrant youth and young adults, among the fastest-growing immigrant communities in the US since 1990 given immigration and resettlement programs, have long enacted creative, artistic, and embodied literacy practices extending racial, ethnic, gendered, cultural, linguistic, and geographic identities. Moreover, African immigrant youth in Diaspora literacy practices render visible urgent questions of how youth of color make present across contexts of schools, families, and communities their knowledge, identities, and lived experiences as emerging forms of participatory communal civic engagement. My qualitative, design-based study thus addresses pressing questions for education research and literacy teaching and learning: how do African immigrant youth engage civically across schooling and community contexts through their literacy practices; and how do education researchers, teachers, and community-based educators design teaching and learning contexts that support African immigrant youth in demonstrating their complex identities in their creative, artistic, and embodied literacy practices? I analyze these questions with youth, teachers, and community-based teaching artists across two after-school literacy-and-songwriting initiatives and four public-school classrooms in two large cities in the U.S. Midwest, through a framework that draws on ââ?¬Å?rightful presenceââ?¬Â (Squire & Darling, 2013) and ââ?¬Å?literary presenceââ?¬Â (Tatum & Muhammad, 2012) to conceptualize the interplay of African immigrant youthââ?¬â?¢s participatory communal civic engagement, literary presence, and rightful presence as their rightful literary presence.
About Vaughn W. M. Watson
Vaughn W. M. Watson is an Assistant Professor of English Education in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Vaughn?s research focuses on the interplay of literacy practices of youth of color and emerging forms of youth?s civic engagement, within and across social, cultural, and geographic contexts of classrooms and community-engaged organizations. In participatory and critical ethnographic research, Vaughn analyzes how youth, teaching artists, and teachers across such creative and artistic literacy practices as songwriting and music production build with and extend youth?s already-present knowledges and lived experiences as civic imaginaries. This work involves designing research approaches and constructing theoretical frameworks that broaden onto-epistemologies as the ongoing work of literacy research and English teaching and teacher education. Vaughn has published research findings in journals including the American Educational Research Journal; Teachers College Record; Review of Research in Education; Research in the Teaching of English; and Urban Education. He is a National Council of Teachers of English, Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color fellow (2012-2014), and received his Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. From 2003 to 2015, Vaughn taught English at a public performing-and-visual arts secondary school in New York City.

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