Somali lives across borders, localities and communities; Transnational practices in the everyday lives of Somali refugees in Amsterdam
Osch, E.R. van
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This study seeks to get a better understanding of transnational practices undertaken by Somali refugees and their family members in the pursuit of asylum, meaningful family relations, livelihood and opportunities for a better life. By focusing on the everyday experiences of Somalis in Amsterdam, the interplay between mobility and locality within overarching social networks that characterize their lives becomes visible. Researching the extent to which refugees’ experiences are characterised by strategies of self-reliance and social security mechanisms, creates understanding of lives lived both in and beyond the Dutch welfare state. The notion of transnational linkages and integration as a zero-sum game is rejected, which enables paying attention to both border-crossing practices as well as local structures of inequality and institutionalization.Thirteen in-depth interviews, conducted between March 2014 and May 2014 are at the heart of this thesis. To capture the untold, these interviews are supplemented by observations and informal conversations. Stories, narratives, conversations and platforms of communication which are meaningful for the Somali community in Amsterdam are central. By paying attention to these meaningful practices a better understanding of how different transnational practices manifest themselves in daily-lives and how local and mobile social practices can reinforce of contradict each other is gained. This study describes how Somali refugees are keeping their heads up. Living between borders is often not a choice, but a must to ensure livelihood, meaningful family relations and opportunities for a better life; a life in dignity.