Clare Rishbeth presents, Refugee inclusion in urban greenspace: strategies for inclusive practice
December 9 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
The PUBLIC SPACE RESEARCH GROUP welcomes, Clare Rishbeth presenting, Refugee inclusion in urban greenspace: strategies for inclusive practice
This presentation examines how asylum seekers and refugees experience urban greenspaces. Whilst often overlooked in a focus on support services and integration, I 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 (Germany), London and Sheffield (UK), the research 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 findings identified multiple barriers regarding information, legibility and in gaining the cultural capital and confidence needed to 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, I define and propose ‘curated sociability’ approaches as possible frameworks for supporting egalitarian participation and offering pathways to greater engagement. I finish 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.
Dr. Clare Rishbeth is a senior lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Sheffield, UK. Her primary research area is migration and place, encompassing themes of belonging, (un)familiarity, experience of racism, recreation and nature connections. She led the research project ‘#RefugeesWelcome in Parks’, developing understanding and ideas to support improved wellbeing and inclusion for refugees using the local resource of urban greenspace. Her academic curiosity and social values are focused on profiles of marginalisation – shaped by intersections of ethnicity, class and gender – and the importance of these in informing the planning, design and management of public space. She is currently working on two research projects. ‘Voices for the Future’ maps youth activism engaging with climate change and the biodiversity crisis. ‘Just Turn Up’ explores how participation in informal sport in ethnically diverse urban public spaces might contribute to social interaction and inclusion.
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