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Beyond the Ghetto

The workshop Beyond the Ghetto - an interdisciplinary perspective on patterns of ethnicity in the built environment aims to make progress towards interdisciplinary work in the field of cities and migration.

Recent economic and political trends have brought the subject of segregation to the foreground of policy debate. In particular this is due to recent large population movements, which have brought about an influx of migrants to UK cities, typically settling in large clusters in urban locations. This has led to a variety of discussions on issues ranging from housing supply and other demands on the physical infrastructure, through to social determinants, such as areas with a large proportion of low skilled workers or demands on education facilities by non-native speaking children. A relatively new phenomenon is immigrant settlement in smaller clusters in the outer suburbs and the formation of 'superdiversity' with many different minority groups mixing in a single area.

While there is the perception that immigrant and minority clustering is problematic, historical analysis has shown that the clustering of immigrants during the initial stages of settlement – and sometimes beyond – is part of a natural process of acculturation and integration. Segregation is a complex concept and the use of the terms 'ghetto' and 'segregation' can be remarkably unhelpful, as their use masks the complexity of the phenomenon: segregation can be economic, social or ethnic and differs in its patterns depending on its spatial context. Moreover, clustering can be positive: there is evidence that in the past the clustering of minority ethnic groups enabled their  intensification of communal activity, socialisation, networking and self-support.

If segregation is a negative attribute for our cities, how does integration work and how is this facilitated by space? Some suggest that public space plays an important role in bringing disparate groups together, whilst others state that only meaningful everyday contact (such as in the classroom or the workplace) is of any utility. This lack of clarity regarding the relationship between immigrant settlement patterns and social outcomes in the contemporary city demonstrates the urgent need for innovative thinking in this area.

The workshop discussions are intended to lead to a publication in the journal Built Environment. We will have a series of short presentations from UCL scholars followed by responses from three invited experts: Ludi Simpson (Professor of Population Studies, Manchester), Ceri Peach (Professor of Social Geography, Oxford) and Pnina Werbner (Professor of Social Anthropology, Keele). We are keeping the numbers low to enable an in-depth discussion.

For further details, please email Dr Laura Vaughan.


Monday 17th May – 13:00-17:00

13:00    Lunch;

14:00    Disciplinary viewpoints:

  • Introduction: the role of urban form in shaping and transforming immigrant settlement over time. Laura Vaughan, UCL The Bartlett, Faculty of the Built Environment
  • A pan-European perspective on segregation in varying welfare regimes. Sonia Arbaci, UCL The Bartlett School of Planning
  • Ethnic segregation in a comparative UK/US perspective. Pablo Mateos, UCL Department of Geography, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
  • Environmental and health inequalities, cities and migration in London. Mordechai (Muki) Haklay, UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering and Ilaria Geddes, UCL Global Health Equity Group

15:00    Coffee

15:30    Responses from the invited respondents:

  • Ceri Peach (Professor of Social Geography, Oxford);
  • Pnina Werbner (Professor of Social Anthropology, Keele);
  • Ludi Simpson (Professor of Population Studies, Manchester)

16:15    Discussion

17:00    Close and drinks

Page last modified on 31 jan 12 12:08