Vol.14, No.2 | [Article] Syrian Refugees in the U.K.: Their Songwriting Workshop and Social Integration



County Durham in north-eastern England participates in a scheme, which allows the most vulnerable Syrian refugees to settle in the U.K. As the County’s population is dominantly White, the refugees tend to be differentiated from the locals regarding ethnicity and religion. This paper presents a case study of a songwriting workshop of Syrian refugees, supported by local volunteers and Durham City of Sanctuary, a charity organization. In their song lyrics, the refugees express their hope for establishing their lives in the locality. Folkloric symbols of the Durham sanctuary, which appear in its history, absorb the refugees’ primordial sentiments and make them reidentify as sanctuary seekers. The research suggests that history can be productive and innovative as a model for projecting the contemporary relationship between the locals and refugees onto the past and can encourage the shift of social boundaries, which blurs ethnic and religious differences between the immigrants and locals.