Un-bordering Heritage: Supporting Refugee-Host Community Integration through Inclusive Tourism, Common History and Higher Education in Mardin, Turkey
Since 2011, 88,000 Syrian refugees have settled in the ethnically diverse Turkish city of Mardin, a UNESCO heritage site. This has placed strain on the labour market, exacerbating high unemployment and leading to social tensions, ultimately inhibiting integration. The potential of Syrian refugees to contribute to Mardin's vital tourism economy has been overlooked and under-realised, despite millennia of linguistic, cultural and familial ties that long predate the Turkish-Syrian border. This project seeks to understand the potential of Mardin's tourism sector and the multicultural history on which it rests, to serve as drivers of economic and social integration, and to foster social cohesion between ethnic groups rooted in shared heritage. Through collaborations with women's community groups, and Syrian and Turkish students at Mardin Artuklu University, the project explores the role of civil society and higher education in brokering intergroup engagement, fostering social cohesion and promoting an inclusive, community-driven tourism economy.
Dr Tom Parkinson, University of Kent; Dr Musallam Abedtalas, Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey; Professor Abdurrahman Ekinci, Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey; Dr Bahriye Kemal, University of Kent; Dr Lokman Toprak, Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey