In recent decades the study of emotions in the daily lives and geographies of migrants has received growing attention. In this chapter, I discuss the emotional attachments expressed by young male migrants in relation to public spaces in Cork, Ireland. This chapter interrogates the interrelation of affect and emotion and ‘spatial belonging’ from a migrant perspective, and is based on a recent study of homemaking practices of two subgroups of young male migrants in Ireland: international students and refugees. The data collected through walking interviews and photo elicitation interviews show interesting similarities between these two different groups. This chapter focuses on public spaces as homes and thus offers a novel analysis of emotions within the context of migration of single young male migrants in Europe and their ways of creating a meaningful sense of spatial belonging within public spaces.
This chapter examines the experiences and life-worlds of young migrant women in Thembisa, a sprawling township on the outskirts of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Based on conversations and interviews in small hairdressing salons where the young women congregate, the chapter explores how they form relationships and build networks around what we refer to as ‘private-public’ spaces. ‘Private-public’ spaces describe the ways in which a space like a hair salon can be open to anyone on a busy, open street but also be a space for creating (sometimes temporary) friendships, networks and threads of trust among girls and young women looking for better futures in a different country. Exploring how the teenage girls, many of whom have become mothers themselves at a young age, do not fit the stereotypical picture of a vulnerable child migrant, the chapter argues for a greater focus on the realities and needs of migrant youth and especially girls as they move across borders, and base their survival on spaces which simultaneously expose and provide protection from the precarious experiences of everyday life in South Africa.
Esatis is an engaged slam poet from the Central African Republic. Nathan-2K is a Congolese gospel music guitarist. Both young men left their respective home towns and made their way to a foreign African megapolis in search of greener pastures. Based on two biographical trajectories, this chapter (1) problematises South–North migration and concentrates on trajectories within Africa; (2) questions the artificial migrant–refugee divide and; (3) challenges images of the vulnerable refugee/migrant and underlines self-affirmation, personal success and dignity instead. The biographic approach helps to contextualise important moments of decision in these young men’s biographical trajectories. Exploring these details leads to a deeper understanding of how lives of youth in urban Africa can unfold in a constant interplay between structure and agency (through music).
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.
A vision for social justice in the built environment suggests that urban planning is a political process that can and should enable the conditions for all city inhabitants to influence the spatial and material character of the urban public space. This chapter examines theoretical dimensions of the inclusive city, urban planning and the public space and connects these debates to findings from interviews conducted with refugee youth living in the city of Amman. These interviews reveal insight surrounding the everyday experiences of refugee youth and shed light on the challenges and transformative potential of inclusive planning. Building on this analysis, this chapter emphasises the criticality and necessity for inclusive urban planning processes as a means to encourage alternative and innovative ways to rethink urban politics, engage the urban political will of refugee youth and re-envision public space for a more socially just city.
The introductory chapter of the book explains the overall focus on refugee youth as active agents and our interest in urban space. By putting personal and everyday geographies of refugee youth central we do not overlook structural forms of exclusion that take place but we show how young people themselves make sense of their lives in the new places of arrival. By putting their experiences centre stage we move beyond the mainstream domains, formal community or organisational settings and locations. The various chapters in the book illustrate how our focus on public space offers opportunities to explore meaningful spaces for refugee youth that include spaces that might be created by refugee youth themselves. Moreover, this collection explores the lived experiences of refugee youth in urban public space in a highly diverse range of international contexts and with specific attention to gender which allows us to illustrate how urban public space is actively produced in many different ways.
This chapter considers how processes of dispossession are at the centre of contemporary struggles over public space, rights and political belonging, which refugees often become subject to and part of upon their arrival to a country of supposed refuge. In the midst of the recent ‘European refugee crisis’, the Danish government introduced a new law which enabled the Danish state to carry out a search-and-seize order on newly arrived refugees, seizing refugees’ cash, jewellery, electronics and other personal belongings. While this law might be seen as an exception to the humanitarian reception of refugees, I argue that we need to consider how processes of dispossession are at play within Western states’ treatment of refugees and racialised migrants more broadly. In this chapter, I examine dispossession as it relates to racialised youth (including refugees and migrants) in Denmark, focusing on the Danish Prime Minister’s most recent call to confiscate expensive down jackets, watches and mobile phones from so-called ‘indvandrerdrenge’ (immigrant boys) who are deemed to create insecurity in public spaces. Drawing on the analytic of dispossession, I show how processes of gendered and racialised othering are both discursively and materially constituted.
Rohingya refugees often migrate through Malaysia before resettling in other countries. One of the most significant Rohingya cultures relates to purdah, in which women are instructed to not be seen by men and are not permitted go to most public places. Women, including girls in their early teens, are expected to stay at home, which hinders their education and access to public spaces. The purpose of this chapter is to shed light on the lives of young Rohingya refugees who live in Malaysia’s urban areas under a purdah culture. This study gathered narratives about child marriage from 20 young and married Rohingya refugees with key themes including access to public and private space in relation to culture and everyday life. The chapter discusses the restricted life of this vulnerable group and sheds light on how they navigate public and private spaces within purdah culture. Due to purdah culture, they are restricted from public places such as schools, playgrounds, markets and wider public spaces. Medical care is only accessible to Rohingya women through their husbands, making this the only way they can access public facilities.
The cities of Turkey are now host to the world’s largest community of Syrian refugees. The metropolitan city of Istanbul provides the ideal context to study the relationship between space and identity to understand this transition in an urban context. Students are one of the most dynamic groups experiencing these changes because they use different places, create new sense of spaces with new lifestyles, transform their own identities, are integrated into a shared education system and socialised by interacting with different groups. This chapter examines the everyday geographies of Syrian students to shed light on the co-construction of Syrian student identities and sense of space in Istanbul. I draw on analysis of 30 in-depth interviews and participant observations were conducted with young migrants over 18 years old between August 2019 and March 2020 in Istanbul. Key points considered include segregated, judicial and private spaces as spaces of exclusion, and comfort zones, cooperation spaces and open spaces as the spaces of inclusion.
This chapter reflects on how the edited volume Refugee Youth: Migration, Justice and Urban Space offers an alternative to more traditional academic studies of integration by opening up a space for refugees’ own voices to be represented and heard on their own terms. It makes a case for the importance of ‘planetary listening’, in which each individual life contains the traces of a global human story. Rather than caring only for those who seem to look like us, this kind of attention opens us to the experience of displaced young people in a way that invites a more inclusive planetary consciousness. It is based on ‘fellow feeling’ and aimed at an ‘unspectacular’ human portrayal of young people seeking freer lives.