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Where do I belong?: Lived experiences of young Syrian men in the Netherlands.
In this presentation I aim to provide nuanced insights into the everyday experiences and actions of young Syrian male refugees in the Northern Netherlands. In social and political debates, Syrian male identities tend to be reduced to only a few aspects, such as gender, race and religion. Representations of Syrian refugee men in the Netherlands therefore tend to portray them as unwilling, unassimilable or a dangerous Other. Consequently their emotions, inconveniences and vulnerabilities rarely surface, even though men are both the object and the subject of power relations and social violence.

I seek to disrupt these narratives by exploring how young Syrian male refugees establish meaningful and emotional relationships with their everyday environment. I use findings from in-depth and walking interviews to provide a rich illustration of their daily routines and activities, and the opportunities and vulnerabilities they experience as they seek to achieve security, home and belonging. The insights show that Syrian men represent a diverse, complex and dynamic population in contrast to social discourses and political debates. They actively explore and occupy local spaces to find a sense of home and belonging, and demonstrate various strategies to cope with cumulative change in their everyday life. At the same time, they experience slow violence in multiple social domains due to social and institutional marginalisation. The emotional relationships that Syrian men establish and maintain are thus complex, and relate to various times and spaces due to personal biographies, aspirations and desires.

Seminar presented by Rik Huizinga, Utrechet University, The Netherlands

Jan 20, 2022 01:00 PM in Dublin

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