Everyday life in a refugee camp: socio-spatial practices and interaction dynamics in a case study carried out in Turin, Italy.

A relevant authority is put to use on the life of asylum seekers by national immigration policies, both in terms of displacement and conferment of a nationality status.
In what ways does this affect everyday life in a refugee camp? How do displaced persons, such as asylum seekers, redefine their daily life in a new place and how do they recreate social spaces? In what ways are spaces and their definition influencing everyday life? How do Italian authorities managing the camp, deal with asylum seekers?
This paper is an account of a field study which was based on a two- month long participant observation (complemented with semi- structured interviews) in a refugee camp nearby Turin, in northern Italy.

von Giulia Borri

The growing complexity of contemporary societies is linked to many matters. Migrations nowadays are one of the challenging issues for countries on a social, economical and political point of view. In particular forced migrations, as defined by the international law system and as a concept created by western societies, are now becoming a major political and social matter that European countries, as well as others, have to deal with. In a sociological viewpoint much has been written about migration phenomena, however Italian literature is lacking of contributions in this sense, especially as far as literature on forced migrations and asylum right is concerned. Current literature related to this topic is often focusing on legal aspects and how these are conflicting with the actual situation in Italy. This lecture however means to focus on the impact that the Italian National Asylum Policies have on the everyday life of asylum seekers putting into evidence particular aspects such as socio-spatial related practices and interaction dynamics.
To open the debate a case study carried out in Turin is proposed. Turin is a city in northern Italy that has been dealing in emergency conditions with forced migration since 2007. The purpose of this study is to analyze some of the social practices that a group of asylum seekers living in a refugee camp nearby Turin have adopted in the shaping of social spaces inside the camp, and to show interaction dynamics occurring between them and the camp managing team.
Hence, the literature this work is basing on concerns much of E. Goffman’s work on interaction , nevertheless many other theories and writings have been taken into account: theories regarding urban marginality in migration phenomena, L. Malkki’s studies on refugee camps, as well as interpretations of space and place such as the TPSN theory . Since the subject of this work is concerning social practices the most adequate research method was considered to be participant observation complemented with semi- structured interviews conducted in English or French.
What this lecture wants to put in evidence is how displaced persons, such as asylum seekers, redefine their everyday life in a new place and recreate social spaces through practices that shape a “grammar of space” : a code to get acquainted with the places they live in according to the precarious situation they are experiencing.
How much are spaces and their definition influencing everyday life? The relevance of this question becomes evident if we consider the power that both international and national immigration policies put to use in terms of displacement and conferment of a nationality status on asylum seekers and refugees.

Giulia Borri, Laurea Magistrale in Sociologia, Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy. I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Sociology at the “Università degli Studi di Torino”. My areas of interest are concerning migration studies and urban sociology (gentrification processes and means of participatory democracy in urban planning activities). I have been working in freelance research projects using both qualitative (interviews, ethnography) and quantitative research methods (questionnaires and little SPSS data analysis).

Dieser Beitrag wurde eingereicht von Giulia Borri.

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