Somali Migration to the United States: Understanding Adaptation Through Digital Stories

Moin Syed, Jillian Fish, Jill Hicks, Ummul Kiram Kathawalla, Erika Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to further understand the psychological process of migration through an interdisciplinary (psychology, history, and digital humanities) collaboration that examines theexperiences of Somali refugees in the United States. Method: The sample consisted of 26 SomaliAmerican emerging adult and older adult refugees who created digital stories as part of the ImmigrantStories Project ( Stories were analyzed through an examination ofnarrative structure and content. Results: The structure of the authors’ stories was primarily progressiveor stable, with very few regressive stories. Although the distribution of these story structures did notdiffer for emerging adults and older adults, there were important variations in content. Emerging adults’stories reflected a struggle to find self-continuity across time and place, whereas older adults’ storiesindicated attempts to find meaning and optimally adapt to their current situations. Moreover, none of thestories took on a redemptive structure, a type of story that has been identified as culturally prevalent inU.S. culture but seldom examined across diverse populations. Conclusions: The findings highlight thevarieties of paths toward successful immigration and the importance of taking a collaborative, participatoryapproach to understanding migration experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Immigrant Stories Project is supported by the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded to Erika Lee, and a University of Minnesota Grand Challenges Exploratory Research Grant awarded to ErikaLee and Moin Syed. The full Immigrant Stories collection is availableonline ( No aspects of this study werepreregistered

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association


  • Digital stories
  • Immigration
  • Redemption
  • Refugee
  • Somalia

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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