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Nature and Belonging in the Lives of Young Refugees: A Relational Wellbeing Perspective


Nick Haswell

Social Sciences 12, no. 11 (2023): 611.


This paper explores the relationship between nature contact, wellbeing and belonging in the resettlement experiences of young refugees in Finland. Drawing on qualitative data, including participant-made artworks and semi-structured interviews, it explores the different ways refugees encounter nature in their past, present and (imagined) future. Using a relational wellbeing approach, the paper considers how subjective, material and relational dimensions of wellbeing arise and interrelate within refugees’ encounters with nature and how these encounters link with refugees’ developing sense of belonging to people and places in Finland. The paper describes how, in the context of refugee resettlement, nature encounters can foster a sense of belonging in three ways: through restoration and attachment in the present, through maintaining links with the past, and through shaping desires about a future in which to thrive. Considering refugees’ sense of belonging in Finland as part of the relational wellbeing generated, in part, from their encounters with nature, these three aspects of belonging represent particular interrelations between subjective, material and relational dimensions of refugees’ wellbeing.

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Nature and Belonging in the Lives of Young Refugees
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