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Graduate Program

Syrian Refugees and Cultural Intimacy in Istanbul:

'I Feel Safe Here!'
(2016) Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2016/59


This paper derives from the findings of a recent qualitative and quantitative study conducted by the Support to Life Association among Syrian refugees in Istanbul to make their vulnerability assessment with a particular focus on their strong attachment to this city. The research question to be answered in this paper is to what extent Istanbul provides Syrian refugees with a space of cultural intimacy, where they feel safe and secure despite the difficulties of everyday life. The main premise of the paper is that historical, cultural and religious forms of affinity are likely to particularly attach the Sunni-Muslim-Arab-Syrians originating from Aleppo province to Istanbul. However, this sense of safety is not free from various sources of exploitation. This paper is expected to contribute to the discipline of Refugee Studies by shedding light on the historical elements and the agency that are often neglected in such analysis.