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Alexandra Johnson

Alexandra Johnson

Alex is from Raleigh, North Carolina and has spent her time at Duke focused on migration studies. Since freshman year, she has participated in Citizenship Lab where Duke students mentor newcomer high school and college students in Durham. Alex also participated in DukeEngage Dublin where she worked at an NGO that works with refugees in Direct Provision Centers. She travelled to Amman, Jordan with Duke Immerse to collect life story interviews with Syrian, Palestinian, and Iraqi refugees then culminating in a publication. She also worked in Athens, Greece interviewing migrant women about their views on ethical news media practices. Outside of her studies, she is raising a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence! Post-graduation, she hopes to continue her work around migration.

Honors Thesis:

The Effects of Collective Identity Theory on Local Congolese Refugees

Faculty Advisor: Professor William Tobin

Abstract: This senior thesis seeks to answer the question: How and why has a sense of collective identity changed for Congolese refugees since migrating to North Carolina? As of 2017, Congolese refugees were the largest refugee population coming to both North Carolina and the United States. The Congolese conflict has been going on for over 20 years and has resulted in the deaths of over six million people and the displacement of three million more. Over 2,000 Congolese refugees have resettled in North Carolina since 2002. To answer this question, ten semi-structured interviews were conducted over Zoom and the phone asking about group identity traits from the Aspects of Identity Questionnaire. Questions focused on the identity traits that each individual said were most important to them and asked how they changed from their time in the DRC to that in North Carolina. Answers varied depending on age and gender, though how religion and family related to their identity remained fairly constant. This is perhaps because it transcends location or time. Contrasting this, group identity perceptions on race, career, and social class changed greatly as the United States holds different views on these traits and what qualifies one for different jobs, for example. Better understanding how refugee identity perception changes will allow local communities and refugee resettlement agencies to better support refugees when they arrive and settle in North Carolina.