5: The Inclusionary Potential and Spatial Boundaries of (Semi-)Public Space: Refugee Youth’s Everyday Experiences in the Urban Fabric of Amsterdam

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The city – rather than the state – plays an important role in refugee youth’s everyday experiences. In this chapter, we draw upon participatory research among young refugees and asylum seekers in Amsterdam to illustrate the lived experiences of these youngsters in public spaces in the urban fabric of Amsterdam. We illustrate their favourite places, the use and meaning of these spaces, and how these spaces impact their sense of belonging in both the Netherlands and Amsterdam. The findings show that it is not self-evident for refugee youth who are new to the city to immediately exploit the potential of public space. Semi-public spaces can fill an important role in providing a safe and meaningful space for refugees’ integration and participation in society. At the same time it is not self-evident to transmit these encounters beyond these semi-public places, which illustrates that conviviality is spatially bound to specific places.

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