2009 volume 27(2) pages 234 – 250

Cite as:
Valentine G, Sporton D, Nielsen K B, 2009, "Identities and belonging: a study of Somali refugee and asylum seekers living in the UK and Denmark" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(2) 234 – 250

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Identities and belonging: a study of Somali refugee and asylum seekers living in the UK and Denmark

Gill Valentine, Deborah Sporton, Katrine Bang Nielsen

Received 4 April 2007; in revised form 21 August 2008; published online 29 January 2009

Abstract. Drawing on empirical research with young refugees and asylum seekers (aged 11 – 18) now living in Sheffield, UK, and Aarhus, Denmark, respectively, this paper explores some of the relationships between identity, belonging, and place. We begin by reflecting on the young people’s sense of identity as Somali in the context of periods of forced and voluntary mobility. We then consider what it means to be Muslim in the context of the different communities of practice in Aarhus and Sheffield. Finally, we consider the extent to which the interviewees self-identify as Danish or British. In reflecting on these different dimensions of identification and belonging, we conclude by highlighting the importance of being ‘in place’ for attachment and security, and identify implications of the findings for integration and cohesion policies.

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