Aster S Tecle

Curriculum Vitae

Aster S Tecle portrait
  • Assistant Professor, College Of Social Work


Research Summary

I focus on refugees’ experience of forced displacement to better understand how cultural identities evolve in and through global migrations. My work with Horn of Africa refugee youth in the Pacific Northwest explores their sense of "home" in cultural displacement. I intend to expand my research scope to larger African communities for comparative analyses of “refugeeization” and "integration" discourses of newly arriving Africans and those who landed in the West Coast since the 1970s.

Research Statement

My research interests stem from my personal experience of forced displacement from my homeland, a reality that has become a common pattern of life for the majority of people in the global south. As a community-based participatory researcher, stories and narratives emanating from contextualized experiences are key to my scholarship and academic evolution. As such, building relationships with respective communities, building trust for open communication, and working together with mutual respect and reciprocity requires extensive time and efforts. I am an insider and outsider even within my communities, which also makes it harder to build relationships when each community is politically bounded relative to cultural, economic and socio-political concerns in the homeland. I am also an insider-outsider amongst African refugees and immigrants based on differences in our experiences.  We live triple lives: here in the U.S. questioning “belonging,” and there in Africa “longing,” as we simultaneously construct cultural spaces where we, intentionally or not, embrace identities, mesh cultures and/or recreate new ones in ways that make sense to each one of us. As I reflect on my work with refugees in the U.S., I see myself learning, evolving and becoming alongside communities as we explore each other’s experiences.

Research Keywords

  • Refugees and Immigrants * Forced Displacement and Global Justice * African Indigenous Knowledge and Research * PAR * CBPR., Interest Level: 5

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • Identity & Isolation: Exploring Integration Needs for Refugee Youth in the U.S. Using an Ethnographic Approach. University of Utah. 2016. PI: Nathan P. Devir, Aster Tecle, & Caren J. Frost. Incentive Seed Grant Program, University of Utah., 12/2016 - 12/2017. Total project budget to date: $20,000.00