Representations of space and borders in the Austrian public discourse on asylum and in narratives of refugees
- Sabine Lehner (International Research Center for Cultural Studies, University of Art and Design Linz)
DOC-Scholarship by the Austrian Akademy of Sciences (ÖAW)
In my PHD project, I examine representations of space and borders in Austrian public discourses on asylum and in narratives of displaced persons in Vienna. Furthermore, I aim to gain insights into individual constructions and experiences of borders, boundaries and different spaces. The following research questions are investigated: How are borders and asylum-related spaces (e.g., accommodations, receptions centers, housing for refugees) represented in Austrian public discourses on asylum? What is the relationship between different social actors, their actions and positioning in the discursively and narratively constructed spaces and borders? How do asylum seekers refer to and construct their experiences with borders and various other boundaries? Which spaces are significant in their current everyday experiences in Austria? How is a shelter for asylum seekers organized (in terms of agency, social roles, spatial and social organization/orders etc.)? And how do residents and employees (social workers and interpreters) experience this space? Among various elicitation methods, I conducted participatory photo interviews and semi-structured interviews with asylum seekers and refugees to learn about their experiences with borders, boundaries, their living/housing conditions and spaces/places that are important for them in their current life in Vienna. The project combines various theoretical approaches such as critical sociolinguistics, positioning analysis, narrative studies, border & boundary studies and migration studies.