Donna Mozaffarian

York University
Refugees, sport and belonging: A photovoice inquiry
Refugees, sport and belonging: A photovoice inquiry
This thesis examines the concept of sport as a vehicle for belonging and social inclusion amongst six Eritrean refugees participating in an ethno-specific soccer team located in the City of Toronto, and the ways in which settlement occurs through the sports environment. This study uses photovoice methodology and draws on Maxwell et al.’s (2013) modified application of Bailey’s (2008) social inclusion framework, as well as Antonsich (2010) approach to belonging. Together, their work serves as the foundation upon which the study analyses participants’ ideas of inclusivity and belonging within a sport a context._x000D_
Unlike the mainstream understanding of refugees as individuals who are displaced from their homeland and settle in a host country (Goodwin-Gill & McAdam, 2007), nearly all study participants had been born into a state of displacement, being children of parents who had fled or also born into displacement. This protracted and intergenerational state of displacement continued due to a lack of citizenship, status or rights for the participants in their birthplace. The study shows that the theme of intergenerational displacement was interwoven with the participants’ understanding of what it meant to belong. In addition, the spatial dimension of social inclusion (Maxwell et al., 2013) was contingent upon the type of sport being played and facilitated by the ethnospecificity of the team. The shared experience of refugees from the same ethnic background, not only allowed them to exchange information in regard to their claimant process or other logistical settlement support services but also provided them with a sense of group-belonging and comfort that participants felt were not present in more diverse teams.