The Typology of Foreignness. A Case Study of Othering & Belonging amongst Refugees in Northern Norway
ForfatterAndreasen, Søren Mosgaard
In this thesis I examine the relationship between social boundaries and processes of othering and belonging amongst refugees in a Northern Norwegian community. I find that organizing concepts such as 'integration', 'culture' and 'second generation immigrant' permeate everyday talk on, and definitions of refugees amongst my Norwegian majority informants. In this context, I argue that dynamics of micro-humiliation may arise as a consequence to widespread and largely self-evident cultural assumptions about belonging and non-belonging along the Norwegian/refugee divide which come together as a particular type of othering: 'A typology of foreignness'. To discuss how the typology of foreignness may transcend into experiences of micro-humiliation amongst societal newcomers, I develop the concept of 'total identification'. I argue that the use of labelling concepts such as 'immigrant' may translate into a problematic form of identity-based reductionism, overshadow individual constellations of personhood and routinely invite subject positions towards refugees with a taken-for-granted ontological quality of ethnic/cultural non-belonging. I then go on to examine social boundaries as they are experienced from the position of individuals with a refugee status. I discuss how certain markers of foreignness, such as religion, skin colour, language, gender and ideas of 'cultural difference' may be intersectionally linked and appear to be cumulative and mutually reinforcing. To describe this individual multidimensionality of micro-humiliation, and how the typology of foreignness may impact people in varying ways according to the broader situatedness of their identity, I develop the concept of 'negative symbolic capital'. I argue that what is often understood as dynamics of ethnic/residential segregation may be thought of as a feedback loop of foreignness. Thus, to emphasise one's minority status may be an emergency plan for establishing belonging; a way for some individuals to create a sense of social attachment, self-worth and dignity in a society where Norwegian ethnicity has become a highly salient marker for 'genuine' belonging within the nation.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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