Bidi bidi creativity: The liminality of digital inclusion for refugees in Ugandan higher education

Michael Gallagher, Rovincer Najjuma, Rebecca Nambi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Educational inclusion for refugees is increasingly being framed through digital technologies. This is problematically characterised at the macro level by global and national narratives that portray the digital as an external and universal force capable of radical transformation and inclusion, and at the micro level with more nuanced accounts that acknowledge an already-present political economy of technology of everyday practices of (non)adoption, and use. Particularly for refugees, inclusion is further characterised by a persistent liminality with its attendant experiences of transition and tentativeness. Digital inclusion becomes an ongoing act of managing these liminal experiences, noting where barriers exist that stall efforts at further assimilation or reinforce the dominant languages or ideologies, and developing practices, or workarounds, that attempt to move refugees away from the margins of social inclusion. Such a management is inherently a precarious state and one made even more precarious in digital spaces, where inclusion is increasingly intertwined with systems of control and marginalisation. To illustrate this, this paper presents findings from a project exploring educational participation by refugee students in Ugandan universities. It notes the subtle tensions that emerge from the expectations of participation in university life, and Ugandan life more broadly, amidst digital structures and narratives that complicate inclusion. In this paper, we argue that more nuanced conceptualisations of digital inclusion, ones rooted in liminal experiences, are needed to anchor digital technologies in refugee communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Inclusion
Issue number3
Early online date4 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • digital inclusion
  • higher education
  • liminality
  • mobile technology
  • refugees
  • Uganda


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