Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Birgitte Romme Larsen

Birgitte Romme Larsen

Postdoc

Primary fields of research

Regional specialization: Denmark, Scandinavia, rural areas

Thematic specialization: Migration, refugees, asylum centers and asylum seekers, integration, the welfare state, family, children and youth, domestic routines, local communities, social inclusion and exclusion, the everyday encounter between migrants and local residents in rural Denmark

Methodological specialization: Anthropology, ethnography, participant observation, qualitative interviews

 

 

 

Current research

My research and teaching focuses on themes of migration, refugees and social inclusion in a Danish/Scandinavian context.

My current research project (2015-18) is titled "Practising neighborliness in public space: an ethnographic study of everyday social encounters among asylum seekers and local residents in rural Denmark". It forms an anthropological investigation of the everyday meeting and practices of neighborliness between asylum seekers and local inhabitants co-living in the small Danish town of Jelling (3.300 inhabitants). Here, an asylum center is placed in center of town, and asylum seekers and local residents share everyday residential and institutional public space. Instead of approaching this everyday local meeting in terms of a pre-defined dichotomy of 'us' and 'them', a discourse characteristic of much public debate on interethnic social encounters, the project asks how, on a micro-sociological level, various perceptions of togetherness and separateness are actually formed and enacted in daily life, through physical and social interaction within shared public space. Empirically and theoretically, the project seeks to advance knowledge of how everyday relations of proximity and distance are actually shaped and practiced across ethnicity and socio-legal status, concurrently analyzed from migrant and native perspectives, and it seeks to promote an understanding of migratory outcomes and multiethnic co-residency outside of an urban context.

- During summer/autumn 2015 I finish a short postdoc project, "The new rural: the significance and impact of asylum centers on local communities in Danish rural areas", aiming to collect and disseminate practical experience and knowledge about the everyday relationship between local communities and asylum centers, so as to contribute to a factual basis for thier further engagement and promote local solutions to issues emerging from the placement of asylum centers in rural areas. The project is funded by the now former Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Affairs, and carried out in collaboration with Professor Karen Fog Olwig and postdoc Zachary Whyte at Department of Anthropology.

- In 2013 I finished a postdoc project in collaboration with Antropologisk Analyse (hosted by Department of Anthropology) and The Rockwool Foundation Research Unit, qualitatively examining everyday uses of time and money among ethnic minority families in Denmark of Pakistani, Turkish, Palestinian and Iraqi background. The research focused on the ways in which various factors and priorities affedted the family members' everyday choices and possibilities within the daily living space between family life, work life and leisure time. The research has been published as a monograph by Univeristy of Southern Denmark.

- During my Ph.d.-research, which I finished at Department of Anthropology in 2011, I carried out fieldwork among newly recognized refugee families of various national and ethnic origins, mandatorily dispersed for a three-year period to small local communities in the Danish countryside. The thesis explored what happens when this larger political and welfare-societal integration agenda materializes and concretisizes itself locally as it transforms into interpersonal practice, the main analytical themes consisting of the negotiations of inclusion, exclusion and belonging taking place in the concrete everyday social field of interaction between the refugee families and their local social surroundings (municipal integration workers, school teachers, kindergarten staff, volunteer refugee relief-workers, neighbours, etc.).

Impact

At the Faculty of Humanities my research is used as an example of the impact the humanities researchers have on society. 
Read the case: The asylum centre as ‘just another institution’ in the local community

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