Reassembling attachments: place and well-being among Afghan refugees in a small rural town

Johanna Hiitola, Valtteri Vähä-Savo

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This article explores place attachment and well-being among Afghan refugees in a small Finnish town. The small town offers a unique perspective on newly arrived Afghan refugees’ place attachment, as it only started receiving resettled Afghan refugees in 2012. Our analysis draws on the sociology of associations and the concept of assemblages, which provide a novel theoretical lens for integration studies. The data in this study were collected by utilising multi-sited ethnography from 2016 to 2018. The analysis reveals that there is a socio-material side to building place attachments. Different actor-assemblages can ‘plug in’ or attach themselves to a place in divergent ways, but neither the individual nor the place determines the outcome of the resettlement. Some of our research participants found it easy to connect with surrounding assemblages, while others could not connect at all. The third group had initial incompatibility issues but was able to reassemble attachments by using a variety of adapters. These adapters can be the ‘keys to the city’ for newly arrived refugees. Support in finding these adapters would be important for social service providers as well as policy makers to focus on.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3602-3618
Number of pages17
Issue number15
Early online date23 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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  • Publication forum level 2


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