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Ann-Torill Tørrisplass

Ann-Torill Tørrisplass is a PhD candidate at Nord University in Bodø with particular interests in gender, migration and youth research.

She is currently writing a dissertation on unaccompanied refugee minor girls and their transition to adulthood, using institutional ethnography as methodology.

Her project sets out to examine how welfare institutions are organized and coordinated to serve unaccompanied minor refugee girls during transition to adulthood, and studies the phenomenon from the perspective of the refugee girls. This can provide unique insight into the organization of and coordination between different welfare institutions such as schools, care facility centers and the Norwegian Directory of Immigration. In addition, the study will provide valuable insight of how unaccompanied refugee minors experience the welfare institutions, particularly during their transition into adulthood. Few research projects focus on unaccompanied refugee minor girls, a gap this study sets out to close.

The research methodology will be based on institutional ethnography, due to its focus of identifying ruling relations through the standpoint of people who are subjected to them (Smith, 2005). One of institutional ethnography’s most distinctive features is its commitment to discovering “how things are actually put together” (Smith, 2006), through focusing on how specific local settings are embedded in translocal standardizing and generalizing operations – what Smith (2005) has named the “Ruling relations”. 

Currently, Ann-Torill is conducting fieldwork, which entails visiting four different municipals in Norway. Following the guidelines of institutional ethnography, she starts by interviewing the unaccompanied refugee minors, and the “problematics” (Smith, 1987, 2005) they reveal set the agenda for further interviews with employees at different levels of the organization or institution.