The Welcoming City Seminar

Our Urban Studies Foundation-sponsored seminar aims to understand (a) the role of cities as sites of migrant incorporation; (b) the interplay and contradictions between national and municipal agendas and the spaces that are carved out despite or because of these; and finally (c) the strategies and opportunities for resistance.

The most recent migration wave to Europe and the challenge of its incorporation has rightfully occupied a central part in recent urban studies scholarship: From local authorities and activists creating “sanctuary cities” (Bagelman 2016; Bauder 2016) to the crafting of national policies that lead to the “campization” of refugee accommodation in European cities (Kreichauf 2018), all the way to the urban apprenticeship of migrants themselves (Buhr 2018) migration has emerged as a “key urban challenge” (Brandt and Katz, 2017). Nevertheless, the immigration strategies of cities (Kühn 2018) are still dependent on national and international policies: The European Commission has set out the “inclusion of migrants and refugees” as a key Partnership in its Urban Agenda for the EU (EC, 2018). Finally, migrant subjects and their allies increasingly engage in new solidarities, essentially forming a new form peer-to-peer (P2P) welfare in order to protect and improve their living standards and infrastructures.
 
Many European cities have become sites of contestation and struggle over who belongs, how and for how long one is allowed to settle and take part in urban life and constitute the urban space. On the one side, everyday bordering practices increasingly hinder access to the city by curtailing and policing the right to housing, the labour market, legal representation and so on. On the other side, cities can, and often do, act as places of safety and refuge, belonging and membership, as well as resistance and new solidarities. This straightforwardly includes particular spatialities and materialities in the urban space such as migrant occupations and self-organized distribution networks. Less intuitively but equally important is the increasing use and proliferation of a variety of technologies, especially Information and Communications Technology (ICT), that allow for a P2P governance. Finally, even though nearly half of the world’s migrants are women, most policies and legal frameworks are not gender-responsive and are, therefore, responsible for creating new vulnerabilities for women. Therefore, a gendered approach to opportunities and experiences of urban integration and resistance is therefore imperative.
 
Our Urban Studies Foundation-sponsored seminar aims to understand (a) the role of cities as sites of migrant incorporation; (b) the interplay and contradictions between national and municipal agendas and the spaces that are carved out despite or because of these; and  finally (c) the strategies and opportunities for resistance. These can take the form of direct action and physical interventions in cities, such as squatting, or more digital expressions and strategies of resistance to everyday bordering practices. We wish to develop an intersectional approach to the above objectives. Contributions to the seminars origin from different disciplinary and methodological approaches and socio-cultural contexts, indicatively including Urban Studies, Critical Migration and Border Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Geography and, Anthropology and so on. 
 
We will address issues about:
• Access to housing and the labour market
• Legal rights and representation
• National vs local/municipal policies and agendas
• The role of technology in shaping migrant inclusion in the city
• Digital protests against exclusionary practices and for solidarity movements among and between urban populations 
 
Organizers:
Anna Papoutsi, Birmingham/Loughborough University, a.papoutsi@lboro.ac.uk 
Vasilis Galis, IT-University of Copenhagen vgal@itu.dk
Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas, CIDOB bgarces@cidob.org
Antonis Vradis, Loughborough University, a.vradis@lboro.ac.uk