Migration, culture contact and the complexity of coexistence

A systemic imagination





Coexistence, complexity, culture contact, embodiment, integration


This paper covers a part of a larger qualitative and participatory study on the integration of asylum seekers and refugees hosted in the Province of Lecco, Northern Italy. Their embodied experience as newcomers and the daily relationships with space, with others, and with the public discourse is the main focus of the paper. The notion of coexistence, its struggles, constraints and possibilities, is addressed following Bateson’s work on culture contact and a systemic theoretical framework. The discourse of integration is deconstructed and challenged, re-imagining the outcome of culture contact as the unpredictable effect of complex, relational, and entangled processes of interaction. Newcomers’ movements in the physical and symbolic space are studied with aesthetic and generative methods, inspired by the spatial and sensory turns in social sciences. The methodology is multiple and layered: interviews, focus groups, narrative aesthetic workshops and sensobiographic walks are used to chronicle and interpret narratives of coexistence, at a micro, meso, and macro level.


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Author Biographies

Laura Formenti, Università di Milano Bicocca

Full Professor of General and Social Pedagogy, Department of Human Sciences for Education, University of Milano Bicocca, Milano, Italy

Silvia Luraschi, Università di Milano Bicocca

PhD in Education, social pedagogist, and post-doc researcher at the Department of Human Sciences for Education, University of Milano Bicocca.


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How to Cite

Formenti, L., & Luraschi, S. (2020). Migration, culture contact and the complexity of coexistence: A systemic imagination. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 11(3), 349–365. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.ojs1711