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Sum-up of week 2

We sum up the contemporary issues regarding migration and cities presented and discussed during the course of this week.

Hi everyone! Congratulations! You have made it to the end of this week’s programme!

In week 2 we have introduced you to a number of key issues and debates about migrants in contemporary cities. We also encouraged you to challenge some of the stereotypes and single-minded explanations that are often deployed to make sense of complex questions.

First, we considered the question of migrants’ employment in cities and the economic contribution that they make as high-skilled and low-skilled workers, as well as self-employed entrepreneurs. We illustrated how the segmentation of the urban labour market is particularly pronounced in global cities.

Second, we addressed the complex sets of issues pertaining to migrants’ settlement in cities and their impact upon host societies. Looking at the example of London we also critically reflected on how the residential distribution of migrant and post-migrant communities is commonly understood and represented, and we indicated some of the factors that shape the housing trajectories of particular groups.

We then considered how migrants use and create public space through their everyday interactions with the city. We looked in detail at the case of Piazza Garibaldi in front of the central railway station of Naples and saw how this was constituted by two different types of public space: the physical site of the piazza that had been appropriated by migrants in different ways; and the media debate about the same space where migrants’ voices were largely excluded. We will return to Piazza Garibaldi next week where we will look at how a local migrant association has organised guided tours of the area to create alternative ideas about tourism and cultural heritage in the area.

Finally, we concentrated on some of the problems and conflicts that are associated with migration in cities. Jacqui Broadhead explained the impact of the national policy of ‘no access to public funds’ upon migrants’ lives in London and how the Islington Borough Council has intervened to address the issue. We then considered the recent xenophobic violence in South African cities and outlined the different ways in which this has been explained (or denied) by scholars and politicians.

Next week we will shift our focus to look at the policy initiatives that have been adopted at the urban scale. We will also analyse the relationship between migration and cultural heritage in the city and how, in some cases, migration histories have been harnessed as an economic resource, a tourist attraction, and an educational tool. We will end the week by looking at the transnational urban networks of migrant communities around the world today and how these encourage us to rethink the conventional nation-based approach to the study of global migration.

© European University Institute
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Migration and Cities

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