Cities and Newcomers

Research, Ongoing

Regulating Neighbourhoods of Arrival in Periods of Urban Transition, 1880-1914 and 1980-2015. VUB Interdisciplinary Research Programme (IRP) funding.

VUB interdisciplinary project together with Patrick Deboosere and Helga De Valk (Interface Demography research group), Anne Winter (Historical Research into Urban Transformation Processes research group) and Els Enhus and Jenneke Christiaens (Crime & Society research group)

This interdisciplinary research project addresses one of the most critical social problems of our time. Cities are both catalysts and embodiments of societal change: macro-economic transformations go hand in hand with the rescaling of geographical space and the redrawing of the layout and social composition of cities, among other things by generating new flows of migration. Although the presence of migrants is a ubiquitous phenomenon throughout urban history, processes of accelerated societal transformation tend to entail momentous changes in migration patterns and create new fields of tension and conflict, which together pose fundamental challenges to the existing social order. This research programme focuses on the modes of regulation developed to cope with these challenges. Drawing on an interdisciplinary framework it aims to break down artificial boundaries between state-centred and migrant-centred perspectives on regulation and integration that dominate discipline-bound approaches. We postulate that the arrival of large numbers of newcomers in specific local settings spurs regulatory actions by urban governments, established residents and newcomers alike, the interactions of which produce specific integration patterns and foster new modes of urban life. By investigating the interactions between the formal and informal modes of regulation surrounding the process of arrival in its local setting, we therefore aim to gain original insights into the how and why of patterns of integration and conflict, neighbourhood disintegration and urban renewal.