Participation and wellbeing in urban greenspace: ‘curating sociability’ for refugees and asylum seekers

Clare Rishbeth , Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek , Jonathan Darling


This paper examines how asylum seekers and refugees experience urban greenspaces. Whilst often overlooked in a focus on support services and integration, we argue that critically exploring the importance of urban greenspaces has wider implications for understanding how asylum seekers and refugees navigate experiences of displacement and resettlement. Drawing on empirical work foregrounding refugee experiences in Berlin, London, and Sheffield, we found that spending time outdoors in local recreational spaces such as parks, can have positive outcomes for wellbeing and inclusion, with the potential to support respite and the beginnings of belonging. However, though there were multiple positive accounts, especially of busier parks and of appreciating nature, many participants were uncertain or anxious about using parks. The interviews highlight the multiple barriers faced by asylum seekers and refugees, regarding information, legibility and in gaining the cultural capital and confidence needed venture out. The varied experiences reflect the diversity of greenspace typologies in Northern European cities, and also how individuals weight up public perceptions and, for some, the insecurity of their legal status. In unpacking the interaction between these barriers, we define and propose ‘curated sociability’ approaches as possible frameworks for supporting egalitarian participation and offering pathways to greater engagement. We conclude by highlighting a range of interventions that offer situated opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees to engage with urban greenspaces, and which provide insights into how the expectations and rules of urban greenspace are actively negotiated and may be rewritten.
Author Clare Rishbeth
Clare Rishbeth,,
, Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek (Wydział Nauk Humanistycznych i Społecznych)
Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek,,
- Wydział Nauk Humanistycznych i Społecznych
, Jonathan Darling
Jonathan Darling,,
Journal seriesGeoforum, ISSN 0016-7185, e-ISSN 1872-9398, (N/A 140 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.5
ASJC Classification3312 Sociology and Political Science
Languageen angielski
Participation and wellbeing tekst.pdf 297.9 KB
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Participation and wellbeing osw.pdf 230.92 KB
Score (nominal)140
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.386; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 2.566 (2) - 2017=3.302 (5)
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