The combined effects of public policies and citizen practices on precarious migrant settlement in small French cities. The cases of Cahors and Issoudun

Authors: Camille Gardesse*, Paris School of Urban Planning
Topics: Migration, Qualitative Research, Social Geography
Keywords: migrants, small cities, citizen practices, public policies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Iris, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded



Migrant populations fleeing from war and economic misery have traditionally been studied in the context of large metropolis, and even more so since the so called “refugee crisis” has brought both Medias’ and politicians’ attention on refugees in the strategic gateways of migratory routes. Yet in France, after Calais “Jungle” dismantlement in 2016, the state-led relocation of migrants in Orientation and Welcoming Centers (“CAO”) dispatched across the country raises a new interest for smaller and more ordinary French cities.
Combined with local stakes of residential vacancy and the prospect of urban renewal projects, the evolving geography of precarious immigration has led to specific responses from both local authorities and existing civilian communities. How do officials and more informal inhabitants group interact with precarious immigrants? In this paper I will address this issue and regard small cities as specific contexts of integration but also as actor systems fostering or impeding hospitality.
This paper will rely on an ungoing qualitative fieldwork (interviews and observation) in Cahors and Issoudun, respectively populated with 20,000 and 12,000 inhabitants and both characterized by high rates of residential vacancy. They recently opened a CAO to accommodate migrants from Calais. They also share common features of citizen involvement trying to improve migrants’ living conditions. My main hypothesis is that the relocation of migrants imposed by the state can lead to the emergence of the local civil society as an important actor in migrant settlement.

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