At the "Ends of Kinship": Women Re(kin)figuring Literacy Practices in Protracted Displacement


  • Katie Silvester Indiana University Bloomington



In this article, I develop a conceptual framework, informed by “circles of kinship and friendship,” that contributes to my understanding of how close-knit ties to family, friends, and community in the context of disruptive migratory processes influence the selection, ebb and flow of women’s investments in language and literacy acquisition later in life. I pay close attention to the role of kinscripts in women’s literacy development. As a familiar concept within sociological studies of the family (Stack and Burton) and intergenerational literacy research (Gadsen), kinscripts is helpful in examining how family members navigate the life course across multiple generations, especially as their interactions are shaped by value systems and related behaviors patterned over their lifetime. Put to use as a verb, I consider how literacies kinscripted in earlier stages of life are in tension with resettlement imperatives experienced later in life, as social roles within the family are called into question by migration processes. Over the course of lives spanning refugee migrations, I illustrate how scripted family relationships that influenced women’s literacy investments earlier in life, shift toward non-biologically linked, intergenerational friendships later in life, rearticulating literate lives in critical solidarities around literacies that had not been made possible prior to resettlement.  

Author Biography

Katie Silvester, Indiana University Bloomington

Katie Silvester is an assistant professor of English and coordinator of multilingual writing at Indiana University Bloomington.




How to Cite

Silvester, K. (2023). At the "Ends of Kinship": Women Re(kin)figuring Literacy Practices in Protracted Displacement. Literacy in Composition Studies, 10(2), 38–60.