The large number of refugee arrivals in 2015 has intensified debates on the meaning of integration and subsequent policy making on integration measures. Often shared values are seen as a way to secure societal cohesion. This panel engages with these debates and examines some of the explicit as well as implicit value statements. It further explores the valuing of various categories of immigrants from an intersectional perspective. As the official panel of the research initiative 'norms and values in migration and integration, it also contributes with a discussion on the pro's and con's of a value perspective to the field of integration.
Rethinking values, redefining masculinity: Syrian refugees in Istanbul and their volunteer engagement
Iza Kujawa (Adam Mickiewicz University)
Since 2011 more than 3.5 million people have sought refuge in Turkey fleeing the deteriorating situation in the war-torn Syria. The initially welcoming approach which took a form of the “open-door policy” framing Syrians as “guests” in need of immediate support, turned with time into more restrictive regulations and antipathetic attitudes. Various forms of “othering” and discrimination became a part of the experiences of refugees scattered across the country and located in various settlements and all major urban areas. In the circumstances, in which refugees’ vulnerability has become highly contested and gendered through nationalist and religious hegemonic masculinity accounts (Sözer 2019), this paper aims to shed more light on the experience of Syrian men based in Istanbul. Drawing upon data gathered due to in-depth interviews with Syrians engaged in grassroot volunteer work, this paper demonstrates their struggle in facing the label of a “refugee man”. The research demonstrates that the volunteer work, that is not being recipients of support but active participants in providing help to local vulnerable communities, allows them to negotiate their position and subjectivity. Furthermore, meeting and working with other Syrians as well as local and foreign activists, becomes a chance to rethink the validity of the up until now followed values and understanding of masculinity, which seem crucial in the search for belonging and process of integration. The paper is based on ongoing fieldwork carried out within the project “Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis.”
“Why is it a problem that somebody wears more clothing than less?”: Women’s negotiation of clothing norms and Islamic values in Northern Ireland
Amanda Lubit, Queens University Belfast
Both converts and born-Muslim women make complex nuanced decisions regarding clothing choices. They face intense daily pressure to abandon their values of modesty and humility, and to embrace local clothing norms. In Northern Ireland, where a history of ethno-national conflict heightens awareness and contestation of national identity, Islamic clothing labels wearers as outsiders and makes them a regular target of discrimination, harassment and even attack. These experiences create barriers to movement and have lasting emotional consequences that further restrict Muslim women’s ability to move and participate in society.
In Northern Ireland visibly Muslim women have difficulty getting jobs, using public transportation, shopping and walking down the street. In this context, some women like Zahra chose to remove the hijab and become less visible. Moving to Belfast twenty-five years ago, Zahra discovered “I don’t want to advertise myself as a Muslim here.” By wearing the hijab, “always you tell the other ‘I’m different. Look I’m different” and that type draws negative attention.
While some women remove their hijab, other women like Fiona chose to put it on. Speaking about the everyday conflict she experiences between conforming to Western societal norms and following Muslim values relating to dress, Fiona exclaimed “Why is it a problem that somebody wears more clothing than less?” Through this statement, Fiona highlights the illogic of gender expectations and clothing norms in Northern Ireland where Muslim women are chronically harassed for covering themselves rather than wearing the socially acceptable short skirts, midriff-baring tops, and heavy makeup.
Self-preservation of power in integration policies
Nicole Stybnarova (University of Helsinki)
This paper is addressing the objective of securing integration and cultural cohesion in a host state through immigration rules. First, the author summarises up to date critiques of integration of migrants – both as a concept and in its particular forms of policy. The author problematizes the critiques and offers a new insight focused on the question of who is benefiting from social and value cohesion. This insight is unravelled by examining how this objective of immigration rules came about in the historical doctrine of Law of Nations. Pieces of historical evidence on the exclusionary state practice (from the 17th century legal doctrinal theorists to 19th century US and UK practices) are offered to demonstrate that self-preservation of the governing power structures historically partook among the objectives of promoting social and value cohesion and assimilation of immigrants, particularly when immigration policy was involved as an instrument. The paper concludes with discussing whether the potentially still existent self-interest of the ruling class in preserving the order of power in the host society through maintaining homogenous society, can converge with the general interests of society. By using an example of the present integration policy in Denmark, the paper stresses points where these two interests clash.
Reciprocity in Integration: Circulating Values through the Swedish Integration Program
Ingrid Jerve Ramsøy (MIM)
Brigitte Suter (MIM)
This paper approaches the notion of reciprocity in relation to integration work in Sweden. It draws on recent political theory’s adaptation of anthropological gift theory to understand integration through the lens of reciprocity. We draw on interview and other ethnographic material from fieldwork among integration workers in Sweden and discuss which social dynamics and power relations become visible when we apply the notion of reciprocity as an analytical lens. Considering how anthropological gift theorists have argued that reciprocity is an elemental part how social relations are constructed and construed, both in interpersonal relationships and on societal scale, how do notions of reciprocity play out in integration work in Sweden? We argue that the concept of reciprocity helps us understand which relationships are made possible in the dynamics between newly arrived immigrants and two central actors of immigration work – the state (as the invisible “gift giver”) and the immigration workers (as those with whom they enter into reciprocal relations on the ground).
Adam Mickiewicz University
University of Helsinki
Amanda Jenifer Lubit
Queen's University Belfast