Globalization, urban re-invention, and migrants (completed)

Ayse Caglar

This is a research focusing on the dynamic relationship between migrants and the remaking, re-imagining and competitive repositioning of cities in the context of neo-liberal globalization. The aim is to develop a comparative perspective of the differing ways in which cities incorporate migrants within restructuring projects and the way migrants develop different pathways of incorporation in cities whose global position varies. In order to develop a comparative perspective, research will be conducted in different sets of cities. Cities from three different sets of cities will be selected: a) cities aspiring to be global b) come back cities c) downscaling, deindustrialized cities.
This project aims to provide a major intervention to both migration scholarship and urban studies and bring them into a common analytical framework. Despite the growing literature on the cultural industries in urban economies, scant attention has been given to the place of (im)migrants in the debates on urban reinvention. There are abundant studies on migration and to cities and the life of migrants in cities, but there is very limited literature on migrants and cities. Migration scholars have paid too little attention to the differential effects of globalization and urban restructuring and the way these processes reconstitute global capital and migration. This way of approaching migrants whose presence and actions not only are shaped by the restructuring of cities but also contribute to the repositioning of cities locates migrants into a different context in which migrant labour and work have been traditionally conceptualized.
By examining the ways in which all cities are now globalizing, but are embedded within differential power hierarchies with varying outcomes, this research focus will go beyond one of the major weaknesses of migration scholarship that is generating theory about migrant incorporation and the location of migrants in urban dynamics on the basis of some paradigmatic cities like gateway cities or a few cities designated as “global cities”. Moreover,such a perspective situates migrants within specific locations both as agents and subjects of the global processes of urban reinvention that reposition these cities within and across state boundaries. Migrants are conceptualized and analyzed as full participants of the political, cultural, and economic forces that have an impact on the changing forms of urban governance, development and social movements, all of which are central to urban debates. Finally, by taking the cities within global dynamics as the entry points of analysis rather than nations and/or migrant communities, this perspective moves the migration scholarship from the deeply seated methodological nationalism, which takes the nations and the ethnic communities as the unit of analysis.

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