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Social contact and encounter in asylum seeker reception: the Utrecht Refugee Launchpad

Oliver, C; Geuijen, K; Dekker, R; (2020) Social contact and encounter in asylum seeker reception: the Utrecht Refugee Launchpad. Comparative Migration Studies , 8 , Article 27. 10.1186/s40878-020-00187-0. Green open access

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Abstract

The Utrecht Refugee Launchpad was an experiment at city-level to create a more inclusive form of asylum seeker reception. The initiative used co-housing, bringing together young, local tenants with asylum seekers to improve social integration and local relations. This article examines the nature of social contact, and considers the value of relationships developed between asylum seekers and tenants, using qualitative data from interviews and participant observation. Our findings demonstrate the importance of context, as we show that the remote logics of the national asylum system imposed spatial and temporal limitations on the co-housing model to generate ‘adjacent’ and transient living. However, at times –through both accident and design– contact was developed with more ease: when there was an equal ratio, similarities between populations, low numbers (of around 80 people in total), access to shared space, and high commitment to the project’s ‘disposition to friendliness’. While we conclude that relationships proved ephemeral rather than sustained, the initiative nevertheless held promise by enabling asylum seekers brief escapes from landscapes of indifference encountered during reception. Recognising how wider institutional contexts impact on the development of contact however helps innovations like these to achieve a greater potential for transforming relationships and values in urban space.

Type: Article
Title: Social contact and encounter in asylum seeker reception: the Utrecht Refugee Launchpad
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s40878-020-00187-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40878-020-00187-0
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Asylum seeker reception, Encounter, Co-housing, Local turn, Refugees, Social contact
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108503
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