News & Events

Cosmopolis Lunch Seminar: Ruth Wauters (Cosmopolis): Arriving at the arrival neighbourhood?

9 June 2016 , Department of Geography, room F4.66, 12h00-14h00

Spatial logic of the arrival of foreign newcomers in Brussels in 1880

Despite the voluminous research dealing with the places were migrants live in the city, the places were newcomers arrive have largely been ignored. However, the investigation of the flows of immigrants in the city is particularly interesting, as it sheds light on a largely unknown and dynamic layer of the city-place. This presentation is concerned with the places of arrival and the mechanisms that produced the spatial distribution of foreign newcomers in Brussels in 1880. In the literature, arrival has implicitly or explicitly been assumed to be directed towards a specific area in the city, or an arrival neighbourhood. However, research dealing with the spatial distribution of immigrants has been biased towards the lower end, permanent migrants, while the places of arrival have hardly ever been mapped. This paper aims to break with the dominant bias by including all foreign newcomers, a group which proves to be highly heterogeneous. Secondly, the availability of a unique source, the bulletins d’étrangers or foreigners registration forms in combination with the creation of a historical GIS (Geographical Information System) allows the detailed mapping of the spatial distribution of foreign newcomers. Based on my findings, I will argue that the unilateral focus on ‘arrival neighbourhoods’ may obscure the more complex patterns and underlying mechanisms for arrival in the city. I will stress the necessity of recognising the diversity of newcomers and spatial arrival logics, and the importance of specific not-neighbourhood-bound addresses, institutions and events in addition to a (partly) neighbourhood bound guest oriented accommodation and the social character of the environment.