Novelty and nostalgia in urban greenspace: Refugee perspectives

Clare Rishbeth*, Nissa Finney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates migrants' perceptions and experiences of urban greenspaces. The research used innovative participatory and visual (photography) methods and the 12 week programme included visits to 10 greenspaces in Sheffield. The participants were all asylum seekers and refugees from Asia and Africa. This paper discusses how and why the participants engaged or disengaged with local greenspace in the short and medium term. In particular, the importance of memory and nostalgia in participants' experiences; the significance of plants; the novelty of visiting British 'parks'; and the role of greenspace in enhancing the quality of life of immigrants are explored. The paper concludes that a positive impression of the local environment and meaningful participation in it can be a useful component of integration into a new society. Furthermore, recognition of landscape elements or characteristics can provide a conceptual link between former and new homes. However, for this refugee group many physical and psychological barriers must be overcome if the full benefits of urban public open space are to be realised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-295
Number of pages15
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2006


  • Memory
  • Participatory research
  • Public open space
  • Refugees
  • Sheffield
  • Visual methods


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