Rehearsing Imagined Futures: Creative Performance as a Resilient Process among Refugees

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Cultivating resilience while navigating uncertainty is crucial for refugees. In the Netherlands, after receiving asylum and the right to work, refugees are often urged to adapt or evolve in hopes of successfully integrating into the Dutch economy. How do forced migrants who pursue work in creative enterprises help us rethink the relationship between forging new lives and uncertain futures? In this paper, resiliency of refugees is presented as a process of creative performance and experimentation. Efforts taken by refugees to explore, or ‘self-potentialize’, new future creative pathways suggest that resilience is overly simplified when defined as a pursuit of resistance to integrate and conform into established creative industries. The stories of two refugees living in Amsterdam showcase how resiliency is future-oriented, processual (Pink & Seale 2017), and connected to the preservation of one’s ‘capacity to aspire’ (Appadurai 2013). ‘Future-making’ is embedded into their creative pursuits and weaved into their ongoing journeys of personal and professional development. Ethnographic inquiry into the perspective of refugees pursuing work in the creative economy sheds light on the complexities and nuances of rehearsing alternative imagined futures. Keywords: imagined futures; uncertainty; refugees; creative performance; aspiration.

Article citation: 2022 EPIC Proceedings pp 101–116, ISSN 1559-8918,

Pages: 1 2 3

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