Natural Environments and Interracial/Interethnic Interactions among Immigrants: A Cross-country Study

By dr. Karin Peters - The goal of this study is to investigate the roles of natural environments in interracial/ interethnic interactions and in the development of a sense of belonging and inclusion among immigrants in host countries. Natural environments, such as urban parks and forest preserves, have long been documented to play a dual role in the process. Although accessible to all, they are frequently considered contested spaces, where opposition, confrontation, resistance and subversion can be played out over ‘the right to space’. This project focuses on relations between experiences of present and historical discrimination, the potential of natural environments as places where interactions among people of different race and ethnicity can occur and the development of place attachment, renegotiation of immigrants’ identities, and social cohesion in natural environments.

The objectives of the study are to: 1) Examine changes in the use of natural environments between the home and host countries among immigrants and the reasons for the observed changes; 2) Investigate the roles natural environments play in interracial/interethnic interactions – to what extent they are the sites of interracial/interethnic conflict vs. promote intercultural contact and understanding; 3) Explore the levels of attachment to natural environments in the home and host countries. This study adopt an interpretive symbolic interaction approach. The data will be collected with the use of individual in-depth interviews.

Research group:
dr. Karin Peters - Wageningen University, Cultural Geography Group
prof. Monika Stodolska - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism (project leader)
dr. Anna Horolets - University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw