Refugees are forced to gamble with their lives to flee conflicts, and if they arrive at their intended destination unscathed, they may face the turbulent prospect of asylum defined by a meagre existence, social exclusion, poverty, and even homelessness.
Operating at different scales and imagined places, homelessness and asylum seeking are issues of fundamental social justice typically viewed as a problem of cities and crises of national and international concern respectively. However, over the past two decades in particular, the increasing and volatile numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the West have created a new form of homelessness, mainly hidden, often vulnerable, and located in the interstices of international and local displacement. Considering refugee settlement in London, England, and Toronto, Canada, this book argues that this new form of homelessness also requires a new perspective in order to be properly understood, and this perspective should come from refugees themselves. Two main questions are considered: “How do refugees conceive, locate, and reconstruct ‘home’ in the asylum and settlement process?” and “How do national and residential dynamics affect refugees’ sense of home or homelessness?” Drawing on structuration theory amongst other ideas, the book examines the relationship between “refugeeness” and homelessness, and how each is shaped in the countries of asylum. Managed migration strategies in Canada and deterrent migration strategies in the UK have a profound effect on refugees’ perceptions of belonging and acceptance, equality, and the desire and ability to make a home for themselves. In addition to shaping notions of belonging, national support and services (or the lack thereof) structure the pathways to homelessness, revealing distinct trajectories amongst refugees in London and Toronto.
The author’s proceeds from the sale of this book will be contributed to the Canadian Council for Refugees.
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Priya Kissoon is an urban social geographer and Lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. She received her PhD from King’s College, University of London. Her research interests, which span the UK, Canada, and the Caribbean, include poverty and housing issues, as well as mobility, migration and belonging.