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Accepted Paper:

'Cooking money': from things to social relations in a Danish asylum centre  


Andrea Verdasco (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how,in the context of the 'migration crisis',young refugees living in a Danish asylum centre transformed money granted by the state into social interactions.The socialising of the money shows how they organised their lives around interdependencies experienced as forms of kinship.

Paper long abstract:

In 2015, when the 'refugee crisis' escalated with a surge of refugees seeking asylum, European states introduced a wealth of restrictive policies to deter asylum-seekers and refugees from entering their countries. Denmark, historically held up as a frontrunner in refugee protection, was no exception. It introduced a broad range of measures including mandatory detention, cuts in social benefits and limitations on family reunification. It also became international news with its controversial 'jewelry law' where refugees were to be dispossessed of their material 'things' by Danish authorities. This paper will explore how young refugees who arrived in the Scandinavian nation during 'the crisis' as unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors transformed the materiality of 'pocket money' - a small allowance granted by the Danish state to cover their basic needs - into social practices. By following the money, I suggest that a process of de-individualising (cf. Carsten 1989) took place when the welfare state-sponsored pocket money left the individual envelopes and became a shared resource of the community of friends at the asylum centres. The paper will explore how 'things' granted by the state are transformed and how the money that was initially an individual transaction between the state and the asylum-seeker was socialised providing a stronger sense of belonging.

Panel P105
The Materiality of Migration: From 'bare necessities' to 'promising things' [ANTHROMOB]