The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 208

Unsettling integration


2 July 2021

By Giovanna Astolfo, Harriet Allsopp, Jonah Rudlin, Hanadi Samhan

As part of the three-year project “EPIC”, funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration fund, this research explores the diversity of responses to migration accross eleven European urban spaces and the different strategies put in place by migrants to navigate and learn the city. To achieve its objective, the project has been designed to establish an international environment for building knowledge and exchanging good practices across multiple partners and sectors. The first chapter examines current migration and integration literature in order to dissect and move beyond the notion of integration.

Incorporating policy discourse and academic analyses of integration frameworks and practice, the chapter provides a discursive context for and background to the need for concept revision and to how processes and practices of adaption are perceived of and understood. The second chapter discusses the findings of the surveys and interviews conducted across the eleven cities based on an alternative framework of care, repair and maintenance, drawing out the dominant dimensions and themes within subjective definitions and experiences of ‘integration’.

The analysis underlines the importance of recognising the diversity in trajectories of integration, and that policy design should focus on removing obstacles to integration rather than imposing linear integration trajectories. The paper attempts to adopt a reflexive gaze throughout the research to acknowledge the position of power, privilege and in most cases whiteness of the researchers involved. It also recognise the limitations of this type of research and the fact that it is not meant to provide solutions. It wishes, however, to foster further reflections and address the challenges faced by local NGOs and governments.

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Photo: A selection of photographs from the photo elicitation method, which asked those interviewed to share an image which symbolised home and belonging. Images included homes under lockdown, polaroid's from another era, sunsets and kitchen spice cabinets.