Building Urban Refuge in Troubled Times

Silvia Pasquetti & Romola Sanyal

Building Urban Refuge in Troubled Times: Conversations on Personhood, Justice, and Place across Practice and Scholarship

Small Group Project 2021

The project provides an original approach to the question of how refugees rebuild their lives, engaging with local residents and institutions in the cities where they settle. It does this by promoting a cross-national and regional dialogue between the West End Refugee Service (WERS, Newcastle, UK) and the Center for Immigration, Asylum, and International Cooperation (CIAC, Parma, Italy). The team will include staff members of refugee background, thus valorizing the experiential knowledge of those who have been both recipients of humanitarian aid and involved in the creation and delivery of programmes to support refugees. By assembling this team, the project aims to bridge the extant gap between conceptual and practical work on refugee integration and to advance debates about refugee lives in urban Europe that so far remain stuck within unhelpful dichotomies: e.g. refugees perceived as “bare life” or celebrated as limitlessly agentic; third-sector charities celebrated as inherently good institutions or critically constructed as oppressive institutions. The project is based on a participatory methodology of reflexive exercises about histories and practices of support for refugees in Newcastle and Parma. Focusing on education, housing and employment, the team will engage in a series of nested conversations and focused writing sprints on some local initiatives WERS and CIAC are conducting with refugees in these three key arenas. The project will integrate and innovate the concepts of justice, personhood, and place by bringing them in dialogue with the real-life experiences of refugees in Newcastle and Parma, thus creating new practical and conceptual space to share local expertise and to generate new insight on urban refugee lives across European cities. In line with the vision of ISRF, the project pursues a long-term and committed partnership between cross-disciplinary academics, practitioners, and refugee communities to enhance both practices and knowledges about urban refuge in Europe.

Contacting Fellows

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