BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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From camps to urban enclaves: Accommodating Syrian refugees in Berlin (2016-2019)

Nössing, Elisabeth (2022). From camps to urban enclaves: Accommodating Syrian refugees in Berlin (2016-2019). (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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This study looks at the proliferation and perpetuation of refugee camps in Berlin taking ethnographical fieldwork with Syrian refugees as a starting point. It raises two core questions: first, what kept refugee shelters in place after the so-called refugee crisis was over; and second, what evolution did refugee shelters see as the years went by? While asylum seekers in Germany are to reside in refugee shelters in an initial phase, refugee shelters in Berlin increasingly came to host residents who were no longer legally bound to stay in a shelter but did not find a private home on the tight housing market. Drawing on Michel Agier’s theorisation of the refugee camp and Loïc Wacquant’s work on socio-spatial relegation, this study highlights the nexus of refugee housing and urban housing offering a spatial take on the buzzword integration. It presents an ethnography of urban refugee housing within the context of the so-called European refugee crisis and the proliferation of refugee camps in Europe more generally. This study is based on multi-sited field research in several emergency shelters, a container camp, and a modular accommodation facility in Berlin over the course of four years (2016-2019). In addition, it incorporates extensive research outside of the refugee camps guided by an actor-network theory approach including participant observation and interviews with Syrian refugees navigating the housing market, state and district officials, housing counsellors, politicians, and representatives of the housing industry. Also, it offers an overview on refugee housing and social housing policies in Berlin as well as a thorough analysis of its legal-administrational framework. Ethnographical evidence includes case studies on precarious or informal means of housing and illegal brokers as well as insights into life in the shelters and what it meant for refugees to continue living in a shelter rather than in a home. Main findings suggest that while refugees were integrated into the social system, the health system, the job market, and the educational system, they felt kept apart in the shelters. This study found that refugee shelters turned into fenced-off forms of urban housing over the years while refugees emerged as a new group of urban poor in risk of homelessness. Put in more theoretical terms, refugee shelters saw processes of urbanisation and came to present important parallels with spaces of relegation, however, retaining core features of the camp as a place at the margins and thus fundamentally remaining spaces at the margins of the urban and at the margins of society.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Single
Date of Defense: 20 September 2022
Subjects: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
Institute / Center: 06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Depositing User: Sarah Stalder
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2024 10:38
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2024 23:25

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