Syrian Refugees in Amsterdam: A Look into Their Home Experiences and Home-Making Strategies

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Kyohee KIM, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Peer SMETS, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The recent sociopolitical situations in the Middle East caused an enormous number of refugees in Europe. They lost home in their country of origin, and are in search of new place(s) to call their home again. This study aims to understand how Syrian refugees experience home in a new living environment and which home-making strategies they develop. By providing an in-depth understanding of home in multidimensional perspective (Mallet, 2004; Easthope, 2004; Duyvendak, 2011; Kusenbach and Paulsen, 2014; Smets and Sneep, 2017; Boccagni, 2017), this paper highlights how Syrian refugees cope with frictions of home-making practices by taking into account material (e.g. house, interior design, and decoration) and immaterial elements (e.g. discrimination and exclusion, uncertainty of the future, and social and legal status).

To understand how home experiences and home-making strategies of Syrian refugees differ in environmental settings, this study looks at the two housing projects in Amsterdam. Both projects have mixed residents of refugees and locals, but differ in population, type of project and location. Methodologies used in this study include observations and interviews with various participants such as Syrian refugees, fellow residents in the housing projects, program managers and professionals of related fields. Furthermore, the benefits and drawbacks of two housing projects in terms of ‘feeling at home’ will be analyzed and improvement strategies will be presented.