FENNIA is a non-profit peer-review open access journal published by the Geographical Society of Finland since 1889. It is an international scientific publication dedicated to all fields of geography with attentiveness to northern dimensions.
“Doing belonging”: young former refugees and their active engagement with Norwegian local communities (2020-05-03)
This article explores the everyday lives of young former refugees in small Norwegian towns and considers how a focus on “doing belonging” can help us understand the processes of place attachment and social inclusion/exclusion in a time of increasing diversity and social division. By looking at these youths’ everyday activities and social networks using a range of participatory methods, this article describes how former refugee youths actively work to create and maintain a sense of belonging. The study shows that the youths simultaneously draw on shared knowledge from their social networks and on embodied knowledge gained through the habitual use of place to perform belonging. It is argued that embodiment, as in being a particular type of body interacting with people and place, matters; other crucial aspects are freedom to move and experience the materiality of place, and that former refugees’ belonging needs to be understood as relating to other people’s understandings of their right to belong. The study shows that particular structural conditions for doing belonging should be considered by policy makers.