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Geographies of welcome

Lookup NU author(s): Dr James RidingORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).

Abstract Forced migration is not a new phenomenon. We can barely imagine a society where some people would not feel accepted as themselves or find their lives threatened. Indeed, as long as there have been societies fleeing their territory has existed as an opportunity to avoid subordination and death when other attempts fail. The causes of forced migration vary over time and space, yet diminished opportunities to provide for oneself and loved ones, differing ideas and opinions about communal life, uneven distribution of resources and division of labour, and disaccord with societal norms and moralities, are enduring reasons for people to flee. While such push factors play a crucial role, migration is rarely driven by them alone, as even when faced with conflict people do not usually leave the place they call home and travel elsewhere without active agency. The characterisation of migration as ‘forced’ hence already includes a core humanitarian idea: people do not need to put up with everything, there are limits to what is fair and bearable in human life, and these limits can be indicated by leaving behind intolerable circumstances, by means of seeking shelter and better life opportunities elsewhere.Volume 196 of Fennia takes up a particularly topical approach to forced migration at present, with a focus on the geographies of welcome in the wake of what has been described in popular media and European policy rhetoric as ‘the refugee crisis’. Inspired by the Finnish Geography Days 2017 – thematised Welcome to Finland? – and Nick Gill’s Fennia lecture at the event – titled Welcome: Concept, Culture and Consequences – we are publishing here a critical discussion where geographers are invited to present different perspectives on the idea of welcome, in relation to how it emerged in 2015 and after in Europe, in the context of refuge and asylum seeking. What does welcome mean, in different places and societies? What should it mean, for different quarters and processes? What may it lead to, at different scales and timeframes? The discussion includes nine commentaries on Gill’s (2018) lecture that was expanded and reformulated in our open review process and published as an essay, titled The suppression of welcome(for the Fennia open review process, see Kallio & Riding 2018). The essay begins by thinking about the tension between official and grassroots responses to the so called ‘European refugee crisis’, in order to interpret the organisation of ‘refugee welcome’ in Europe. It aims to initiate a discussion about the nature, practicalities and possible futures of welcome. The text asks the commentators a series of questions which probe what welcoming is, especially when employed in civic discourse by multiple actors as a term associated with the arrival of refugees. Four responses were published and introduced in our first issue of the year (Bagelman 2018; Norum 2018; Vainikka & Vainikka 2018; Vuolteenaho & Lyytinen 2018) and the other five are included in this issue.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kallio K-P, Riding J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Fennia

Year: 2018

Volume: 196

Issue: 2

Pages: 131-136

Print publication date: 29/11/2018

Online publication date: 29/11/2018

Acceptance date: 20/11/2018

Date deposited: 25/09/2019

ISSN (print): 0015-0010

ISSN (electronic): 1798-5617

Publisher: Suomen Maantieteellinen Seura, Geographical Society of Finland


DOI: 10.11143/fennia.76817

Notes: Gold open access: fully open access journal


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