Enroling around—Reconfiguring place and space in the wake of a new reception centre in a small rural town

Mira Välimaa, Valtteri Vähä-Savo, Johanna Hiitola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The paper examines how a small rural town Kauhava, Finland, is reconfigured in the wake of a reception centre being established. Drawing on the conceptual toolbox of the sociology of associations, we find that regardless of attitudes towards asylum seekers, people springing into action and enroling others leads to the problematisation and intensification of place. This involves turning public and private spaces into contested places. Competing definitions of community and identity emerge. While new identities are configured, new associations and ways of linking actors and places together also take form. The paper examines how the micropolitics of place and belonging are carried out in practice, and what types of mechanisms bring about or prevent new conjunctions and transformations in places. The data consist of interviews in Kauhava with town officials, reception centre volunteers, opponents of the centre and refugees who have stayed in the town.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number3
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • assemblage
  • belonging
  • contested space
  • migration
  • sociology of associations

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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