Advertisement

Refugees and Borders: Simmel’s Contributions on Space and Strangeness to Reflect on the Condition of Contemporary Refugees in Europe

  • Inês VieiraEmail author
  • João Pedro Nunes
Chapter

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.

References

  1. Abbott, A. (1997). Of Time and Space: The Contemporary Relevance of the Chicago School. Social Forces, 75(4), 1149–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander, J. C. (2004). Rethinking Strangeness: From Structures in Space to Discourses in Civil Society. Thesis Eleven, 79, 87–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Castles, S., Haas, H., & Miller, M. (2014). The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World (5th ed.). Hampshire, UK and New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Cresswell, T. (2006). On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. EU. (2013a). Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-country National or a Stateless Person. Brussels: European Parliament and Council.Google Scholar
  6. EU. (2013b). Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on the Establishment of ‘Eurodac’ for the Comparison of Fingerprints for the Effective Application of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-country National or a Stateless Person and on Requests for the Comparison with Eurodac Data by Member States’ Law Enforcement Authorities and Europol for Law Enforcement Purposes, and Amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 Establishing a European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Brussels: European Parliament and Council.Google Scholar
  7. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Loescher, G., Long, K., & Sigona, N. (2016). Introduction: Refugee and Forced Migration Studies in Transition. In E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, et al. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (pp. 1–19). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Gazit, O. (2018). A Simmelian Approach to Space in World Politics. International Theory, 10(2), 219–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hall, S. (2015). Migrant Urbanisms: Ordinary Cities and Everyday Resistance. Sociology, 49(3), 853–869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jensen, O. (2006). ‘Facework’, Flow and the City: Simmel, Goffman, and Mobility in the Contemporary City. Mobilities, 1(2), 143–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Karakayali, N. (2006). The Uses of the Stranger: Circulation, Arbitration, Secrecy, and Dirt. Sociological Theory, 24(4), 312–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Karakayali, N. (2009). Social Distance and Affective Orientations. Sociological Forum, 24(3), 538–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kaufmann, V., Bergman, M., & Joye, D. (2004). Motility: Mobility as Capital. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 28(4), 745–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Löw, M. (2016). The Sociology of Space: Materiality, Social Structures, and Action. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Malkki, L. (1992). National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity Among Scholars and Refugees. Cultural Anthropology, 7 (1—Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference), 24–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Remy, J. (2015). L’espace, un objet central de la sociologie. Toulouse: Érès Editions.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Salazar, N. (2016). Keywords of Mobility. What’s in a Name? In N. Salazar & K. Jayaram (Eds.), Keywords of Mobility: Critical Engagements (pp. 1–12). New York and Oxford: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  18. Sheller, M. (2018). Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes. London, UK and Brooklyn, NY, USA: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Sheller, M., & Urry, J. (2006). The New Mobilities Paradigm. Environment and Planning A, 38, 207–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Simmel, G. (1903). The Metropolis and Mental Life. In D. Frisby & M. Featherstone (Eds.) (1997), Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings (pp. 173–185). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Simmel, G. (1908a). Exkurs über den Fremden. In Soziologie. Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, S. 509–512. Translation by K. Wolff (1950). The Sociology of Georg Simmel (pp. 402–408). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  22. Simmel, G. (1908b). Exkurs über die soziale Begrenzung. In Soziologie. Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. Translation by U. Teucher & T. Kemple. (2007). The Social Boundary. Theory, Culture and Society, 24(7–8), 53–56, Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Simmel, G. (1908c). Sociology of Space. In D. Frisby & M. Featherstone (Eds.) (1997), Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings (pp. 137–170). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Škorić, M., Kišjuhas, A., & Škorić, J. (2013). Excursus on the Stranger in the Context of Simmel’s Sociology of Space. Sociológia, 6(45), 589–602.Google Scholar
  25. Takemoto, A., Turci, E., & Vieira, I. (2013). Bello essere Habesha. Bologna: Independent Documentary Film. https://belloesserehabesha.wordpress.com.
  26. Tonkiss, F. (2005). Space, the City and Social Theory: Social Relations and Urban Forms. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  27. UN. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Paris: United Nations General Assembly.Google Scholar
  28. UNHCR. (2010). Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Geneva: The UN Refugee Agency.Google Scholar
  29. UN DESA. (2017). Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2017 Revision. United Nations Database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2017. United Nations, Department of Social and Economic Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  30. Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities. Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA, USA: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-Diversity and Its Implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6), 1024–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vieira, I. (2016). The Construction of the Mediterranean Refugee Problem from the Italian Digital Press (2013–2015): Emergencies in a Territory of Mobility. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, 9(4).Google Scholar
  33. Vieira, I. (2019). “Entre a seca africana e a utopia europeia”. A percepção do papel do ambiente na mobilidade de refugiados e migrantes etíopes e eritreus em Itália e cabo-verdianos em Portugal (Ph.D. thesis in Human Ecology). Lisbon: NOVA FCSH.Google Scholar
  34. Wirth, L. (1938). Urbanism as a Way of Life. American Journal of Sociology, 44(1), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CICS.NOVA—Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (NOVA FCSH)LisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations