Topic: Co-creation of value in Italian mountain regions: beyond the utilitarian approach to reception facilities for asylum seekers and refugees
Reception centres for refugees and asylum seekers, especially when located in marginal areas, have come to epitomize ill-management and value extraction, thus contributing to the overall hostile rhetoric towards forced migrants in the Italian public sphere. The arguments, from different poles of the political spectrum, point on the one hand to the degrading conditions for asylum seekers and refugees and to the mis-allocation of public resources, on the other. Yet case studies point to the potential of successful socioeconomic inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees also in rural and mountain areas.
This paper presents two case studies of reception facilities located in mountain regions in the North-East of Italy. In the two cases considered the marginal location of reception centres turned from a means of spatial segregation into an opportunity for the valorisation of local resources and innovation. In Cadore (BL) and in Lavarone (TN) asylum seekers and refugees have managed to successfully enter the local labour market, characterized by a significant prevalence of the touristic sector. This paper considers enabling and hindering factors that intervened in the access to employment, paying attention to the processes of adaptation and socio-cultural renegotiation triggered by the arrival and settling of asylum seekers in these two Italian mountain regions. Based on in-depth interviews with multiple actors, the paper explores their practices and role in such processes. It focuses on the interactions among the specific socio-economic characteristics of the highlands, the actors involved in the receptions activities and the alternative practices experimented. It considers the activation of nested markets (van der Ploeg, 2016) as well and the development of a welcoming culture (Gretter et al. 2017; Weiß et al. 2017).