Refugees and borders: Simmel’s contributions on space and strangeness to reflect on the condition of contemporary refugees in Europe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Much of the questions raised by migrants, ethnic minorities and other populations who beyond a certain boundary or limit risk the nonexistence or loss of identity, are currently part of a broad transnational territorial and social problematique. In this chapter, we examine Georg Simmel’s classical sociology of space and his view on strangeness as a contribution to reflect on the condition of contemporary refugees in Europe. Based on research carried out by one of the authors, focusing on Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees lives and itineraries, this chapter turns to the “mobilities turn” in the social sciences to place refugees and borders within the anthropological and sociological thought of contemporary fluidity. Next we examine Simmel’s contribution, suggesting that his view on spatial, social and symbolic relations helps to differentiate refugees, both objectively and subjectively, from other categories of “potential wanderers” or “strangers” in the metropolitan world. We suggest that contemporary refugees’ conditions, like other underprivileged groups in mobility, can be best understood as a result of their dangerous pathways and all the harshened frontiers in need to cross, thus risking to become particularly “othered” subjects in the contexts of origin, transit and arrival.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInequality and Uncertainty
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Challenges for Cities
EditorsMarta Smagacz-Poziemska, M. Victoria Gómez, Patricia Pereira, Laura Guarin, Sebastian Kurtenbach, Juan José Villalón Ogáya
Place of PublicationSingapura
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages205-224
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789813291621
ISBN (Print)9789813291614
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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