Making Place for Belonging: Migration and Public Space among Turkish Women in Copenhagen


This thesis asks how uses of city space among a minority demonstrate engagement and identification with the city overall. Research focused on ethnographic interviews with second-generation Turkish women in Copenhagen, about their use of the city throughout different stages of their lives. This was supplemented by participation observation across Copenhagen’s public spaces and interviews with urban planners and leaders of various women’s centers. I find that the second-generation Turkish women demonstrate multiple uses and understandings of city spaces based on their multiple, fluid identities, so that through a particular identity a physical space becomes a meaningful place. Because people are situated and related through space, space and place play an important role in an individual’s identification with and against others. I define space as composed of the built and physical environment across all scales. Place, on the other hand, is space made especially meaningful, interpreted by individuals based on their histories, use, and perceptions of the space. Place is thus a product of a particular identity and its respective ways of being in the city. Different contexts and spaces become the platform for enacting different identities. The result is to conceive of space as dynamically constructed into different places as different identities play out across the city. I demonstrate this first by describing how Turkish immigrants claim and appropriate urban space in Copenhagen, recreating their cultural uses of space within the context of Copenhagen. I continue by contextualizing these Turkish practices within the diverse repertoire of identities of second-generation Turkish women and their accompanying diverse understandings of place. Ultimately, allowing for an open, fluid sense of identities and place creates a more inclusive framework for belonging in a multicultural, transnational city.
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