Migration Question as an Urban Question: Towards New Methodologies and Spatialities of Analysis

Authors: Somayeh Chitchian*, Harvard University
Topics: Urban Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Geographic Theory
Keywords: critical urban theory, critical migration theory, urbanity of movement, the political figure on the move, space of flow, space of places, in-between figure, in-between space
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Studio 4, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the seminal work of Manuel Castells (1972), the ‘urban question’ has formed a focal point among critical urban scholars in their effort to unpack and understand the complexities of the multilevel and multiscalar processes of urban restructuring. This paper, centralizes the question of the urban as one of migration and through the notion of the urbanity of movement deconstructs both the category of the urban beyond that of ‘the city’ alongside the complex category of the spatio-political figure on-the-move beyond that of ‘the migrant’ and thus problematizes the fixed and static ontologies which have been central in both urban- and migration-research. The urban age ideology of ‘categorical fetishism’ has obfuscated—from the fixed and territorially bounded categories of the nation-state, primarily, and the city, currently, all the way to the rather unreflexive static category of the migrant—the continual structuring and restructuring of socio-spatial transformations occurring at all scales, territories, and networks in which both the ‘city’ and the non-city / the migrant and the non-migrant are nested. Referring once again to Castells (1996), through the lens of human movement, this paper deconstructs Castells’ concepts of “space of flow” vis-à-vis “space of places” and, instead, posits the in-between figure in the space of in-between as the central foci of analysis. This analytical shift allows us to conceptualize the notion of movement and those on-the-move not within a place but that of place, thus actively (re)producing and (re)creating the space of flow[s] within the space of places.

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