Migration is changing the face of Europe. To respond to this significant migratory influx, the Dutch government created asylum centers that provide migrants with a temporary settlement in which they wait for the outcome of their asylum process. The Vrolijkheid is an organization that works inside these camps, with artists that provide weekly workshops to children and youngsters. To grasp the work of this organization, several literary sources that shed light on the role of humanitarian actors and the conditions lived by the migrants are exposed in the theoretical framework, alongside scholarly work on the humanitarian power of the arts. To further grasp the Vrolijkheid’s work in sociological terms, macro theories on multiculturalism are also presented. Moreover, this thesis adopts an ethnographic stance to understand the inner-workings of this cultural organization. Through the method of triangulation, three types of data analysis are empirically crossed as they shed light on - the organization’s online image (content analysis), the social dimensions of their work (fieldwork) and the challenges and tensions that the workers face (interviews). This triangular analysis shows that there are significant contrasts between the organization’s online information and the work found in the field. To uncover the reasons behind such divergencies, the narratives of the workers were analyzed through the concept of Social Anchoring as defined by Grzymala-Kazlowska (2016) that puts forward three main aspects of social adaptation: identity, security, and integration. The results revealed that the organization workers face difficulties in grasping the children’s identity and past, as well as creating a safe space in the activities due to the multicultural and unstable characteristics of the work. Nevertheless, it shows that the workers integrate the children since they undergo a big normalization process with the Vrolijkheid. It is argued that the workers biggest concern is to create cohesion in a challenging and multicultural environment. This discovery justifies the differences between the online depiction and the reality of the organization, between what would happen in an idealized world and the solutions that the workers find in the field. This thesis also raises some questions regarding assimilation processes, as the children’s native cultural identity appears to be undermined in a context that seeks cohesion.

kunstwetenschappen, cultuurwetenschappen, Humanitarian aid, Art, Asylum seekers, Social anchoring, Liminality
B. Boross
Master Arts, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

V. Menezes. (2019, June 14). Social Anchoring in Exclusion spaces: Zooming on the role of Art in Asylum Centers Master Thesis. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/49286