Mekada J. Graham is Professor of Social Work and Chair currently working at California State University Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles, USA. She was born in East London, England where she grew up and has lived most of her life. Her research interests span broad areas of contemporary issues on equality and social justice with a focus on ethnicities, ‘race’, gender, childhood studies, migration as well as reflective practice in social work education. She is currently working on a research project Global Perspectives on Social Work and Preventative Care Education Across Borders with University of Southeast Norway in Porsgrunn employing narrative inquiry approaches to social work education.
She has published widely in the UK and USA including a special issue on migration and social work with Professor Charlotte Williams, a Special Issue for the British Journal of Social Work entitled: ‘A World on the Move: Migration, Mobilities and Social Work’ in 2014. Two recent books - Social Work in a Diverse Society, published by Policy Press/University of Chicago Press co-authored with Professor Charlotte Williams. Her new book, Reflective Thinking in Social Work. Learning from Student Narratives (2017 Routledge) considers narrative research, self-inquiry and student narratives as learning stories.
Researching Identities on the Move: Narrative Methodologies and Creative Inquiry
In recent years, new areas of qualitative research have emerged bringing deeper context to ethnographic projects by employing multiple layers of data to uncover the complexities of modern life tied to a reflective outlook. Taking a postmodern approach, this presentation delves into the application of narrative inquiry to open up different mediums across disciplinary fields to uncover different sources about the stuff of life allowing for real experience to come alive in a unique way. This layering of approaches employs creative tools such as drama, novellas, performance and autobiography to capture emotion and sensory understandings of self as a way of bringing voice and experiences to social work theorizing.
In this keynote, I explore self-inquiry and social work student narratives from around the world to open up a blend of critical reflection, personal accounts, lived experiences and identities as learning stories binding the personal to the wider society. The narratives bring together a patchwork of experiences, feelings and emotions revealing a more complete view of student journeys through social work education. These reflective processes are intertwined with identities, social positioning and personal narratives from a global perspective. Personal narratives are highlighted as first-generation students bring stories of hardship, privilege, their families, hopes, lived experiences and community activism from diverse ethnic backgrounds. This approach also offers provides spaces of learning from an ‘insider’ perspective of self-inquiry and contexts in which we practice. The presentation will draw on a recent book, Reflective Thinking in Social Work - Learning from student narratives.