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

 

Program

Monday June 24, 2019

Rued Langgaards Vej 7

IT University of Copenhagen

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10.00 - 10.15 Arrival and introduction to the day

Morning session: Dwelling and refuge

How do migrants use urban dwelling to fight back against hostile national integration policies? What is the role of municipal authorities in facilitating or hindering the process? And what role can art play in mobilising the concept of sanctuary?

10.15 - 10.30    Introduction to morning session

10.30 - 11.00    Vasiliki Makrygianni, ITU

Migrant housing practices in the Athenian territory Commoning personal space against urban policies of exclusion and dispossession

11.00 - 11.30    Martin Bak Jørgensen, Aalborg University

Solidarity cities and cosmopolitanism from below: Barcelona as a refugee city

11.30 - 12.00    Jen Bagelman, University of Exeter

‘Sanctuary Artivism’: Exploring sanctuary solidarity through art

12.00 - 13.00    Questions and discussion

Afternoon session: Technologies and infrastructures

How do migrants use ICT to navigate the European Border Regime and their liminal lives as a whole? How may alternative solidarity infrastructures facilitate their struggle?

14.15 - 14.30    Introduction to afternoon session

14.30 - 15.00    Maria-Nerina Boursinou, University of Leicester

“I’m always here but I’m always somewhere else”: Information Communication Technologies and the liminal lives of the (forced) migrants in Greece

15.00 - 15.30    Fredi Mora, Linköping University

Crafting in squatted spaces: on alternative infrastructures of solidarity

 

15.30 - 16.00    Vasilis Galis & Martin Bak Jørgensen

Diginauts: Migrants’ digital practices in and of the European Border Regime

16.00 - 17.00    Questions and discussion

 

17.00 - 17.15    Closing remarks