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Migrant cities: place, power, and voice in the era of super diversity

By Walter Nicholls and Justus Uitermark


Immigration scholars have long considered cities to be important environments that mediate how immigrants are incorporated into receiving countries. While most scholars recognise that cities have some importance, they continue to prioritise national-level institutions, organisations, networks, and cultural dynamics. This paper introduces the special issue on 'Migrant Cities'. The special issue asserts that cities are not simply backdrops where national-level processes and mechanisms unfold. The contributing scholars reveal how cities are distinctive environments with unique constraints and opportunities. Following a basic introduction, the paper examines how to apply these general assumptions about cities to understanding the political formation of immigrants. The paper does this by urbanising Nancy Fraser’s concept of 'counterpublic'. We suggest that cities possess certain qualities that enable the formation of immigrant counterpublics, which in turn become critical spaces of politicisation.


Immigration, cities, counterpublic, political formation

Publication details

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2016), 42 (6), 877-92. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1126088.

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