Welcome to week 3

Welcome back! Last week we considered a series of issues and challenges pertaining to the relationship between contemporary migration and cities. For instance, we looked at patterns of labour market insertion of migrant workers critically investigating the often polarised structure of labour migration where a few highly skilled migrants come to work in the top end managerial and scientific jobs while a large number of migrant workers, both men and women, end up employed in cleaning, caring, construction, transportation and other menial jobs. We highlighted the different city cases in Doha in Qatar, London in the UK and Prato in Italy.

We also addressed the complexity of migrants’ residential patterns and underlined the multiple factors that determine the areas and types of housing where they settle in a city. We examined migrants’ reuse and transformation of public space, and looked in detail at the case of Piazza Garibaldi in Naples. At the end of the week we turned our attention more specifically to the problems and conflicts that arise in cities as a result of migration. In particular, we focused on the prejudice and violence targetted at foreign African migrants in South African cities and at how the London Borough Council of Islington has tackled the poverty and exclusion of migrant residents resulting from their lack of access to state welfare support.

In week 3, we will continue to consider some key contemporary aspects about migration in cities, and we will also start to reflect more critically on what it means to think about migration at the urban scale. In fact, the three themes addressed this week – policy, heritage and transnational networks – tend to be approached from a national persective. This brings into clearer focus a theme that underpins this whole course: namely, what can be gained when we instead study migration in relation to the city?

We start by considering the role of local policy in governing the phenomenon of migration. The local governance of migration is in fact a multi-faceted domain that spans issues of housing and the provision of basic services to newcomers to issues of cultural and religious integration.

We will then investigate how a city’s migration histories can be understood in relation to cultural heritage and, in doing so, challenge the common premise that a city’s identity is rooted in place. We will look at the recent proliferation of city-based museums that deal in different ways with the question of migration, and reflect on how migration heritage is also produced on an everyday basis in the city itself.

We will conclude this week and the course with a discussion of the multifarious transnational urban networks that exist among migrants across the world today, also in order to underline the limits of analysing the phenomenon from the perspective of the nation state.

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This article is from the free online course:

Migration and Cities

European University Institute (EUI)