Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child Development


One major effect of displacement by war and subsequently living in a refugee

camp is the disruption of the social, cultural, economic and legal institutions of

communities; this affects parenting and a child's development. Few research studies

address the effects of war, political upheaval, and displacement on parenting, specifically

the experience of motherhood and the cultural socialization process of children. Yet, most

research points at the undeniable connection between social and cognitive competence

and the social and physical context, with changes in these contexts influencing the

competencies parents' inculcate in their children. Furthermore,

there is sparse literature focusing specifically on African refugees' experiences prior to

resettlement in the U.S. Moreover, available data and research often fails to separate

African refugees by country of origin and subsumes their unique backgrounds and

experiences necessitating further inquiry and understanding of this population.

To address these gaps, this phenomenological study utilized the narratives of four

African refugee mothers from Liberia to further our understanding of how displacement

by war affects mothers' beliefs about childhood, and the social and cognitive

competencies they desired and inculcated in their children raised in a refugee camp.

Through narrative inquiry, this study also focused on participants' experiences as women

and mothers during this time of displacement from their respective communities.

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