Migration, planetary urbanization and the place/life course/power nexus

Authors: Adrian Bailey*, Hong Kong Baptist University, Katherine Hankins, Georgia State University, Stephan DeBeer, University of Pretoria
Topics: Urban Geography, Migration, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: Planetary urbanization, migration, precarity, housing, life course, Atlanta, Tshwane, Hong Kong
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Napoleon C1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Emerging scholarship on planetary urbanization critiques the widely circulated discourse of a contemporary “urban age” and emphasizes the fluidity of socio-spatial processes underlying urbanization. However, this research is itself critiqued as lacking in nuance and being inattentive to the diverse ways that power flows through, and constitutes social systems. Focusing on the relationship between migration, housing, and urbanization, and drawing on our collaborative work spanning North American, Asian, and Southern African cities we argue that planetary urbanization scholarship has not been sufficiently informed by comparative empirical work on migrants and their housing, and has blindspots concerning socio-legality, family relations, and precarity. We intervene by reframing planetary urbanization scholarship in terms of a place/life course/power nexus. Long interviews with newly arrived migrants in Atlanta, Tshwane, and Hong Kong show housing experiences and strategies that are embedded in daily lives, that are oriented to the negotiation of care of self/care for others, that circulate dignity through tests of truth, and that are constitutive of social, spatial and temporal relations. Our paper concludes by sketching the implications of our reading for the planetary urbanization thesis, and calling for further attention to the place/life course/power nexus.

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