Istanbul as a Space of Cultural Affinity for Syrian Refugees

“Istanbul is Safe despite Everything!”

In: Southeastern Europe

The research question to be answered in this paper is to what extent Istanbul provides Syrian refugees with a feeling of security and safety despite the practical difficulties of everyday life such as working conditions, exclusion, xenophobia and exploitation. 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. This paper is expected to contribute to the discipline of refugee studies by shedding light on the historical elements and agency that are often neglected in such analyses. Based on the findings of a qualitative and quantitative study conducted by the Support to Life Association among Syrian refugees in Istanbul in the last quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, this article aims to delineate the strong attachment of the Syrian refugees to the city of Istanbul.

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