PhD dissertation: Familiar strangers, distant neighbours - How the openness of asylum accommodation influences familiarization between asylum seekers and local residents

to

Few topics are more hotly debated than the reception and accommodation of asylum seekers and refugees. While most of us have never entered asylum seeker accommodation, we are very familiar with how these spaces are portrayed in the media. Reports of protest, racist attacks and overcrowded facilities dominate the public debate. The current way of accommodating asylum seekers does not only have negative effects on asylum seekers themselves, but also on society as a whole. Yet is there an alternative?

In this dissertation, urban geographer Marielle Zill compares the everyday experiences of asylum seekers and local residents of two different inner-city asylum centres in Augsburg, Germany. Her research takes a closer look at how differences between collective forms of asylum accommodation, including spatial location, size or architecture, shape feelings of familiarity and estrangement between asylum seekers and local residents. Her empirical results suggest that larger, closed and mono-functional forms of asylum seeker accommodation limit possibilities for individual recognition and exacerbate feelings of estrangement between asylum seekers and local residents. Small, open and multi-functional asylum accommodations are more likely to increase familiarity between both groups and thereby contribute to a sense of safety.

Through its ethnographic approach, this dissertation provides a more nuanced account of a polarized debate by illustrating not only how asylum accommodation creates ‘discomfort for all’, but also how alternative forms of asylum accommodation can increase feelings of familiarity and comfort for local residents and asylum seekers and thereby benefit society at large.

Start date and time
End date and time
Location
Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, Utrecht
PhD candidate
Marielle Olivia Zill
Dissertation
Familiar strangers, distant neighbours: How the openness of asylum accommodation influences familiarization between asylum seekers and local residents
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. Dr. P. Hooimeijer
Co-supervisor(s)
Dr. B. Spierings
Dr. I.C. Van Liempt