The city of arrival infrastructures

Authors: Bruno MEEUS*, University of Fribourg, Karel Arnaut, KU Leuven, Bas van Heur, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Topics: Migration, Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: migration, urban studies, infrastructure, arrival, integration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Evergreen, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper first draws on different theoretical approaches to open up the notion of arrival. It then builds on an ethnography of infrastructure approach to coin the notion of arrival infrastructures. Arrival infrastructures are those parts of the urban fabric with which newcomers interact upon arrival and in which their future local or translocal social becomings are produced as well as negotiated. With the concept of arrival infrastructures the paper then moves on to start imagining cities from the perspective of migrants’ processes of arrival. Cities then appear as myriads of scaffolds. These scaffolds, maintained and reworked by different actors, can be tied together firmly through a politics of common public goods, or left fragmented and segregated. They can be concentrated in particular neighbourhoods, or spread out over the urban space. Upon these arrival infrastructures, newcomers’ beings temporary territorialize in particular livelihoods. While standing upon these scaffolds new desired future becomings are prepared and channelled, some futures blocked, others well resourced. In the meantime, beings slowly or quickly deterritorialize. In such a city, migrant groups move with different speeds from scaffold to scaffold. Groups of people – migrants - quickly or slowly “passing” through the city, continuously add new scaffolds to the city, reworking and retuning what was already there. Older scaffolds disintegrate, their constituent pieces sometimes left unnoticed for years or decades, but then suddenly rediscovered and brought alive by being rigged together with new human insights, imaginations and materials into a new trajectory through the city.

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