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Refugees and the politics of urban space

A series of projects conducted within the DPU aim to shed light on how governments, host communities and aid agencies are challenged by myths of refugees as subjects and spaces.

calais

17 July 2018

With the increasing trend for the urban settlement of refugees, cities have a pressing responsibility to deal with refugees and asylum seekers. Urbanism becomes a salient subject of public discourse and a symbol of civil society initiatives at various stages throughout the so labelled ‘refugee crisis’. Cities are places where both migrants and non-migrants interact, be it through working, studying, living or raising their families or simply walking in the street. While cities offer great opportunities for migrants and refugees, at the same time they are also faced with challenges in creating opportunities for inclusion. A series of projects conducted within the DPU aim to shed light on how governments, host communities and aid agencies are challenged by myths of refugees as subjects and spaces of bare life and bio-politics, and to offer a perspective on the close and complex relationship that cities, refugee spaces and their residents have with each other. Each project fostered interdisciplinary discussion and thinking between external experts and advisors, staff members, research students and civil society. Projects offered the opportunity for the development of collaborative research ideas, methodologies and activities

Key themes: mapping the city of refuge, narratives of refugeness, the representation of the migration crisis, politics of counting, refugee housing policy and practice, homemaking in a limbo, urbanisation of refuge, paradigms of humanitarian discourse, ethics of hospitality, governmentality of migration.

Research Projects


Borders and camps

borders and camps
Makeshift camps, created in various and dynamically changing locations across Europe (near and within cities, ports, forests, borders), have become an integral part of the so-called current refugee crisis. This collaborative preliminary step between DPU in partnership with Cambridge University and others civil society groups, aimed to set a possible action-research agenda around the complex territory of camp-city and the manifold dimensions of cosmopolitanism, refuge and migration. The research was supported by the urban transformations and the diversity, social complexity & planned intervention research clusters at DPU (2016).
Team and partners

Camillo Boano (DPU)
Giovanna Astolfo (DPU)
Ricardo Martén (DPU)
Irit Katz (Department of Architecture University of Cambridge)
Nando Sigona (Birmingham University)

Sharon Ambrosio (BUDD alumna)

Outputs

Blog post
Life at the edge: reflecting on Calais, borders and camps

Video

Conference
Space, politics and imperfect citizenship. A debate on migration policy and forms of life at the edge of Europe.

Book chapters

Boano, C., Marten R., Sierra A., (2018), The Post-Disaster Camps in Ecuador: Between Emergency Measures and Political Objectives, in Minca C., Katz, I., Martin, D., The geography of camps today. Bloomsbury, London.
https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781786605801/Camps-Revisited-Multifaceted-Spatialities-of-a-Modern-Political-Technology
 
Astolfo, G. Boano, C (2018) Rethinking urban borders with Agamben: dispositives and paradigms, in Ortiz, C. (ed) Comparative urban design: Border making practices in Medellín & Beirut. DPU, London
https://issuu.com/dpu-ucl/docs/budd_book_v2_online_low

Marten Caceres, R (2018) Drawing the line: the calculated production of urban borders, in Ortiz, C. (ed) Comparative urban design: Border making practices in Medellín & Beirut. DPU, London
https://issuu.com/dpu-ucl/docs/budd_book_v2_online_low

Astolfo, G. Marten, R (2016) When borders collapse: on crises, biopolitics and representation. BUDDlab, vol 8, June 2016. DPU, London.
https://www.academia.edu/29609349/WHEN_BORDERS_COLLAPSE_ON_CRISES_BIOPOLITICS_AND_REPRESENTATION


Refugee spaces

refugee spaces
The Cities of Refuge platform aims to stimulate and demystify the ways in which the current refugee wave has been represented in Europe, particularly by bridging insular experiences into a wider continental dialogue. The platform is a systematic repository of data and information made available by governments, international agencies and NGOs. The research was supported by the Bartlett Research Materialisation Grant (2016-2018)
Team and partners

Camillo Boano (DPU)
Giovanna Astolfo (DPU)
Ricardo Martén (DPU)
Ed Manley (CASA)
Stephan Hugel (CASA)
Keyvan Karimi (Space Syntax)
Falli Palaiologou (Loughborough University)

With Tahmineh Emami, Gala Nettelbladt (Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space) and Asimina Paraskevopoulou (Danish Research Council).

Advisors: Roger Zetter (Refugee Studies at the University of Oxford); Marta Welander (Refugee Rights Europe); Estella Carpi (UCL Geography); Nando Sigona (Birmingham University).

Outputs

Website
Visit our website: www.refugeespaces.org

Report
Download our report: Part 1 Part 2

News
Launch of book on mapping by University of London Press with contributions from DPU staff

Article
Book chapter. Astolfo, G, Marten Caceres, R, Palaiologou, G, Boano, C, Manley, E. (2020) The role of data collection, mapping and analysis in the reproduction of refugeeness and migration discourses. Reflections from the Refugee Spaces project. In Mapping Crisis: Participation, Datafication and Humanitarianism in the Age of Digital Mapping, edited by Doug Specht. University of London Press. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv14rms6g.13?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Workshops and presentations

Platform Launch
December 2018


Research workshop
September 2017


Humanitarian Summit
22 June 2017, UCL Roberts Building


Infrastructure of care

Yangon

Formal and informal spaces of displacement and refuge along with the ever-changing infrastructures of care and provision often destabilise the dichotomy between the city and camp and the meaning of concepts such as shelter and relief. This in turn suggests a re-thinking of how figures such as the forced migrant and the aid worker are understood. While foregrounding the role of space, this initiative takes as a starting point the infrastructures of care which are varyingly understood as spatial, human, material and institutional mechanisms of support and agency, as well as of control and restriction.

Organisers

Dr Huda Tayob (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

Dr Giovanna Astolfo (Development Planning Unit, UCL)

Dr Irit Katz (Cities Programme, LSE and University of Cambridge)

Outputs and activities

Download the Call for papers

Symposium and exhibition
1st February 2019

Infrastructures of Care: Spaces of Refuge and Displacement

issuu Widget Placeholderhttps://issuu.com/dpu-ucl/docs/infastructures_of_care_final_d3c46523d4910d

 

From emergency to integration: housing and meaningful lives

Housing has recently emerged as ‘an essential step on the integration path and a precondition for the full enjoyment of social and civil rights’ (Bolzoni et al, 2015:1) While there seems to be an agreement on the role of housing as a tool for promoting integration, there is a less clear appreciation on how to make it effective at the local level. The desk review conducted for the project Curing the Limbo (Urban Innovation Action) identifies and analyses global affordable housing practices in order to show the possibility of application to the case of Athens’ registered refugees moving from state-led accommodation to independent housing.

Outputs

Report
This review identifies, and analyses affordable housing practices emerged from the literature in order to show the possibility of application to the case of Athens’ registered refugees moving from state-led accommodation to independent housing. The report suggests that good housing practices: enhance participation of refugees in city making as a means to achieve social cohesion and city prosperity; leverage refugees’  abilities to negotiate access and rights and to develop innovative solutions to their own housing problems; promote urban alliances towards integration and reduce competition and discrimination in the housing market; and foster refugees as well as host communities’ wellbeing and meaningful lives.

News

BUDD alumni initiative selected as part of Athens' selection as European Capital of Innovation 2018


Designing for inclusive cities. Refugee reception and housing practices in the Mediterranean context

This is an ongoing investigation into accommodation and integration policies and practices responding to the current change in the pattern of forced displacement in the Mediterranean region. Particularly, it confronts policy frameworks in Greece and Italy, two of the major entry points to Europe, in the attempt to establish a dialogue and the possibility for a translocal learning. By examining existing forms of dwelling, as well as identifying the potential impact of novel housing strategies and legal frameworks, the ongoing collective exploration wishes to address how participatory planning could better support the long-term inclusion of refugees.

Team and partners

Camillo Boano (DPU)
Giovanna Astolfo (DPU)
Ricardo Martén (DPU)
Carlotta Fontana Valenti (
BUDD alumna)
Panagiotis Tzannetakis (Help Refugees)

OMNES, Philoxenya International, Harokopio University, University of Macedonia, Stefania Gyftopoulou (CRS)
Agostino Zanotti (Local Democracy Agency in Zavidovici)
Chiara Marchetti (ESCAPES), University of Parma

Outputs and activities

Workshops

BUDDcamp

The Design Workshop (BUDDcamp) is a week-long design exercise in which students are exposed to social-spatial challenges in a particular place. After an introduction to the case through lectures and seminars, the students undertake a 3-day intensive field exploration of the place, exploring the impact of urban design on issues of equality, inclusion and social integration. BUDDcamp is part of the MSc Building and Urban Design in Development.

Planning for Inclusive Cities workshop

The workshop, held in Thessalonikki in April 2018, aimed to bring together Mayors, Institutions and CSO from Greece and others cities in Europe to open a cross-country dialogue and a learning exchange platform on inclusive practices for the accommodation and housing of refugees.

Summerlab Athens

The 2018 Summerlab held in Athens between 10-15 September in collaboration with Stefania Gyftopoulou (Open Architecture Collaborative) focuses on the “Arrival city in age of austerity”. Athens has been marked as a city in crisis. Austerity policies have generated rapid social and economic changes, which are already evident in the physical and social urban fabric. Urban development policies have intensified the conflictive transformation of urban space. The workshop offers a testing ground for the proposing of contextual, hybridised spatial interventions.


Article
Boano, C, Astolfo, G (forthcoming) The imperfect ethics of hospitality. Engaging with the politics of care and refugees dwelling practices in the Italian urban context. In "Hospitality and Hostility in a Moving World", by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (ed). UCL Press


European Platform of integrating cities (2020-2022)

This is a 3-year project funded by the European Asylum, Migration and Integration fund (AMIF). The aim is to establish a learning platform for and by local authorities, NGOs, CSO and migrant-based organisations in ten European countries. The aim of the platform is to:

a)    To co-produce, analyse and confront ‘situated’ and people-centred knowledge on migrant practices of ‘integration’ in selected cities;

b)    To facilitate and support intra- and inter-regional knowledge exchange as well as capacity building to build a knowledge eco-system that can sustain and continually enrich new knowledge;

c)    To promote research translation into people-centred policy that address migration and integration through socio-economic development programmes within the built environment.

Project outline

Integration is an ambivalent concept. It often rests on the precarious and difficult balance between the need for recognition of diversity, which allows the migrant not to feel the object of contempt as a member of an ‘other’ culture, and the desire for assimilation, which is motivated from the legitimate aspiration to equal perspectives of social and occupational advancement. Scholars have pointed out that the concept of integration is multidimensional, in the sense that it extends to different spheres of social life, multidirectional, and often conflictual (Castles et al. 2002; Musterd, 2003; Phillips, 2006a; Fiddian- Qasmiyeh, 2015, 2016a; Grzymala-Kazlowskaa & Phillimorea, 2018).

As evidenced in an earlier review conducted by DPU in 2018/19, in many European countries, there persists a gap between national policies and local implementation with negative implications for economic and social inclusion (exploitative labor, segregated and marginalised living, and decreased access to education and health). Furthermore, the current policy formulation of the migration/integration nexus is conceived as a continuum from arrival to citizenship not accounting for forms of integration that happens formally and informally at multiple stages and on multiple scales (Fawaz 2016; Scholten 2018). The dominant ‘integration’ paradigm presupposes immobility, a condition not possible for many (Grzymala-Kazlowskaa & Phillimorea, 2018; Darling 2016). There is still little knowledge on the impact of policy on individuals (as findings are not coherent, and of quantitative nature), as well as on how the impacts of migration and integration are negotiated on a daily basis through strategies from below, and what obstructs integration, intended as the multiple dynamics and drivers that reproduce exclusion and inequality. Finally, current national and local policy hardly capture individual trajectories, about which little is still known because existing top-down integration measures do not engage refugees and migrants as actors in their making. Lack of refugee voice in the policy is an issue that has been advocated for widely.

Following this line of argument, the project wishes to reframe integration away from the current dominant, colonial and top-down paradigm, and instead conceptualize it as a relational practice constituted by multiple incremental and transformative formal and informal encounters between displaced people, places, institutions and services that are developed to endure and maintain life. Integration is ultimately the result of complex daily strategies of learning, navigating and governing the city. Such an understanding enables us to shift our focus onto the historical and present experiences of those who ‘have to integrate’, recognizing the centrality of migrants’ own assessments to policy innovation. To achieve its objectives the project has been designed to establish an international environment for building knowledge and exchange good practices between partner institutions. Particularly, the project identifies and comparatively analyses under-recognized and under-valued practices in small and large cities. For each case the project will build an urban biography to understand the complex entanglements and assess the practices and effects of migration and integration on people, places and institutions – amidst improvisation, precarity, alternative scripts of citizenship and how state rules are negotiated. Rather than simply collecting and comparing practices, successful or not, across different geographies we see such modes of practice rooted in space and time, and we will look, listen and pay attention to the current instantiations of practice and their relationship to place. We will select and reflect onto a number of practices that are under-valued precisely because of their distance from formal sectors and domains of professional practice, and the mainstream media. These exchanges will constitute the foundation of a capacity building effort that will target local institutions, civil society and future professionals through training, online courses and summer schools.

Team and partners

Giovanna Astolfo (DPU); Camillo Boano (DPU), Harriet Allsopp, Jonah Rudlin and Hanadi Samhan (DPU); Lead: Association Des Agences De La Democratie Locale (France). Kitev - Kultur Im Turm (Germany); Stadt Oberhausen (Germany);  Association Europeenne Pour L'information Sur Le Developpement Local (Belgium);  Municipality Of Ioannina (Greece);  Symbiosis Astiki Mi Kerdoskopiki Etaireia (Greece); Grad Sisak  (Croatia); Isusovacka Sluzba Za Izbjeglice (Croatia); Solidaridad Sin Fronteras (Spain); Regione Autonoma Della Sardegna*Ras (Italy); Studio E Progetto 2 - Societa Cooperativa Sociale - Onlus (Italy); Camara Municipal De Lisboa (Portugal); Associazione Adl Zavidovici Onlus -Impresa Sociale (Italy) ; Comune Di Brescia (Italy); Jrs Portugal - Servico Jesuita Aos Refugiados Associacao Humanitaria (Portugal); Obszar Metropolitalny Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot (Poland) 

Conversation series. Online. 17-19 June 2020

DPU's Giovanna Astolfo conducts conversation series as part of project on the pandemic on migration

Identification of Priorities. Online Workshop 16-18 November 2020

DPU’s Giovanna Astolfo presents the research report 'Unsettling Integration'

Outputs

Unsettling integration. Research Report

DPU Working Paper 208. Unsettling integration

This working paper examines current migration and integration literature in order to dissect and move beyond the notion of integration. It 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 working paper also discusses the findings of surveys and interviews conducted as part of the EPIC project, based on an alternative framework of care, repair and maintenance, drawing out the dominant dimensions and themes within subjective definitions and experiences of ‘integration’


HOUSE-IN (2021-22)

Project outline

This is a 2-year project funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and JPI Urban Europe.

Housing remains an intractable challenge, due to global challenges of the current urban condition such as socio-spatial inequalities and segregation as well as challenges of participation and knowledge integration. An adequate response to these conditions needs to involve inter- and transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral knowledge, new paradigms of discourse, innovative strategies for practice and new capacities for policy and action in order to create a pathway allowing for an articulated portfolio of housing solutions and trajectories to be targeted on individuals. The current Covid-19 crisis has reinforced generally existing housing market inequalities as well as discrimination and exclusion through practices at many places, but several measures to counteract the crisis (eviction ban, rent freeze etc.) bear the potential for policy change as well. Hence, a focus on co-designing innovative housing strategies, that operate at a higher level than housing policy and programmes and are based on a vision of structural change, might contribute to address gaps/inequalities in existing housing systems. Set against this background, HOUSE-IN will assess existing research findings and on-going projects with respect to a common understanding of a Housing-Integration-Nexus and identify structural, organizational and knowledge gaps towards implementation of integrative housing strategies, with a focus on the situation of migrants and refugees in European cities.

Team and partners

DPU team includes Giovanna Astolfo (Pi), Harriett Allsopp (Research Associate) and Camillo Boano (Co-i)

Partners: Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany (Lead Applicant); Development Planning Unit, UCL; University of Latvia (UL); Eutropian GmbH (EU); Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW); Lund University (LU).

Outputs

Webinar. Between humanity and selective solidarity: The current governance of refugee arrival in Riga/Latvia, Leipzig/Germany, Vienna/Austria, Lund/Sweden and Warsaw/Poland. 30 May 2022

Blog post. Now and then. Precariousness, double standards and racism in housing refugees” link to https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/dpublog/2022/06/20/now-and-then-precariousness-double-standards-and-racism-in-housing-refugees/


Publications

Boano, C., Astolfo, G. (2020). Inhabitation as more-than-dwelling. Notes for a renewed spatial grammarInternational Journal of Housing Policy. doi:10.1080/19491247.2020.1759486

Boano, C., Astolfo, G. (2020). Notes around Hospitality as Inhabitation Engaging with the Politics of Care and Refugees’ Dwelling Practices in the Italian Urban Context. Migration and Society: Advances in Research, Vol 3, 222-232. https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/migration-and-society/3/1/arms030118.xml

Astolfo, G., MartenCaceres, R., Palaiologou, F., Boano, C., Manley, E. (2020). The role of data collection, mapping and analysis in the reproduction of refugeeness and migration discourses. Reflections from the Refugee Spaces project. In D. Specht (Ed.), Mapping Crisis. Participation, Datafication and Humanitarianism in the Age of Digital Mapping. Institute of Commonwealth Studies. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv14rms6g

Astolfo, G., Boano, C. (2020). The imperfect ethics of hospitality: Engaging with the politics of care and refugees’ dwelling practices in the Italian urban context. In E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (Ed.), Refuge in a Moving World. Tracing refugee and migrant journeys across disciplines. UCL Press. https://library.oapen.org/viewer/web/viewer.html?file=/bitstream/handle/20.500.12657/40015/9781787353176.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Astolfo, G., Boano, C. (2019). Rethinking urban borders with Agamben: dispositives and paradigms. In C. Ortiz (Ed.), Comparative Urban Design Studio: Exploring Border-Making Practices in Medellín & Beirut. DPU London. https://issuu.com/dpu-ucl/docs/budd_book_v2_online_lw

Project reports:

Astolfo, G., Allsopp, H., Rudlin, J., Samhan, H. (2021). Unsettling integration. DPU Working Paper 208. DPU London. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/publications/2021/jul/dpu-working-paper-no-208

Astolfo, G., Allsopp, H., Rudlin, J., Samhan, H. (2020). Unsettling Integration. EPIC Research Report. https://epicamif.eu/unsettling-integration-epic-research-report/

Astolfo, G., Boano, C. (2019). Affordable housing policy and practices: case studies review. DPU London. https://www.uia-initiative.eu/sites/default/files/2019-02/Curing%20the%20Limbo_report%20on%20housing_Feb%202019%20%281%29.pdf

Boano, C., Astolfo, G. MartenCaceres, R, Palaiologou, F, Keyvan, K. Manley, E. (2018). Refugee spaces. A Bartlett Materialisation Grant Project Report. DPU London https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/sites/bartlett/files/refugee_spaces_report_part_1_0.pdf

Other:

Migration. In: DPU News 68 – (post)Covid Lexicon. April 2021. p15. Available at : https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/sites/bartlett_development/files/issue68bn_v.09.pdf

Displacement Urbanism. Urban Design Conversation 2. MSc Building and Urban Design in Development. DPU London. 12 February 2021 Available at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFYvYgaw6kw

Migration and displacement. In: Thinking Cities. Episode 6. DPU London. Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/digital-media/podcasts/thinking-cities-debating-just-development-global-south/episode-6-migration

Astolfo, G. (2017). The imperfect ethics of hospitality BUDDlab. DPU London. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/sites/bartlett/files/buddlab_2017.pdf

Astolfo, G., Marten, C. (2016). When borders collapse: on crises, biopolitics and representation BUDDlab. DPU London. https://www.adl-zavidovici.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/BuddLabVol82016.pdf