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Rethinking 'Religious Identity' in Refugee 'Integration': An examination into representations and experiences of Syrian 'Religious Minority' refugees in Berlin, Germany

Eghdamian, Khatereh; (2020) Rethinking 'Religious Identity' in Refugee 'Integration': An examination into representations and experiences of Syrian 'Religious Minority' refugees in Berlin, Germany. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This research contributes to existing but nascent literature examining the relationship between ‘religious identity’ and refugee ‘integration’. It does so by exploring the nature and implications of discursive representations of Syrian refugees on Syrian ‘religious minority’ refugees (Christian, Druze, Ismaili, Alawite, and atheist) in Berlin, Germany. Drawing on 11 months of fieldwork and analyses of three German newspapers and magazines, the results of this study are four-fold: first, that the ‘minority’ label is a malleable construct influenced by historical, social and political factors; second, that (mis)assumptions of Syrian refugee identities, needs and experiences are often homogenous, Orientalist, and political in nature; third, that such (mis)assumptions inform and shape different forms of what Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (2016c) refers to as “refugee-refugee relationality”, at times characterised by religious prejudices; and fourth, that such (mis)assumptions about Syrian refugees are increasingly shaped by secularised biases of some institutional actors, which directly influence the experiences of ‘religious minority’ refugees in refugee-host contexts. These findings suggest that there is a need to: be er understand the ‘minority’ label as it pertains to ‘religious identity’ and how it can be (mis)used in different contexts by different actors; examine the dynamics of refugee-refugee relationality, including those related to religious prejudices; and to rethink processes of ‘integration’ and the ways in which secular values and assumptions can shape and inform refugee experiences throughout such processes. In light of these findings, this research posits a challenge to rethink the desirability of ‘integration’ altogether, both as a process and outcome of refugee-refugee and refugee-host relations. It further calls for a need to explore the varied complexities, multiplicities, and contradictions of refugee ‘religious identities’ in contexts of religious diversity. Specifically, it asserts the importance of recognising and understanding how ‘religious minority’ refugees can (re)negotiate, contest, and narrate their identities, needs, and experiences in relation to both refugees and hosts. Such understanding can, in turn, enable appropriate, meaningful, and effective responses to refugees.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Rethinking 'Religious Identity' in Refugee 'Integration': An examination into representations and experiences of Syrian 'Religious Minority' refugees in Berlin, Germany
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10089020
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