Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Civic and Community Engagement | Leadership Studies
We have recently come to terms with a rush of xenophobia, both on the federal and local level. Racist and discriminatory policies have always been at work, but they have been given a higher platform in recent times. This project attempts to understand how and why racist rhetoric is allowed to exist, and how marginalized voices can be circulated throughout the public sphere to maintain their own agencies.
The term “literacy” is typically limited to the Western definition of “reading and writing English”. This project attempts to disrupt that hegemonic narrative, and instead make way for other types of literacy tradition that have and do exist outside of the Western Literacy Tradition. In acknowledging and learning about non-Western literacies that have existed outside of colonial and post-colonial spaces, we can begin to understand how storytelling is used to pass on information and serve as a tool for community organizing in different groups.
The city of Syracuse is home to many communities that have been victims of racialized space, and continue to have their agencies denied by institutions of power like mainstream media, the academy, and the government. This Capstone addresses different community literacies that have taken place in the city of Syracuse, and speaks of how these literacies have been able to be circulated past the spaces that they were created to help change hegemonic narratives and discourses happening about marginalized people without marginalized people.
In analyzing functional community literacies, we can also look into how to provide a platform for refugee populations to be able to maintain their cultural dignities and traditions upon entering Western space. Much of the current refugee resettlement rhetoric and policy-planning is centered around assimilation, and frequently pushes for refugee populations to forget their own histories. As refugees continue to become a more heated and controversial topic in the Western rhetorical sphere, it is imperative that their own voices and experiences be able to maintain their agency and independence.
At the same time, it comes down to the people existing within the academy to also acknowledge their privilege and acknowledge the role of the university in often maintaining hierarchies that put down marginalized groups. We must hold ourselves accountable to making progressive social change.
Sarshar, Nedda, "Circulating Literacies: When Storytelling Meets Policy" (2017). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 1022.
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