UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Urban geographies of refugee journeys

06 February 2019, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm


Part of the SSEES South East Europe Seminar Series.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







South East Europe Seminar Series


Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens
United Kingdom

Urban geographies of refugee journeys: Biopolitics, neoliberalism and contestation over public space in Belgrade

Urban centres have always been integral parts of refugee journeys into Europe, and since 2015, transit cities in particular have become the sites of informal settlements, squats, support centres and volunteer-led aid networks. Such settlements and support services are often seen as sites of resistance, but less attention is paid to how they are embedded in the broader politics of urban development, migration, neoliberalism and pre-existing local contestations over land and public space. This presentation, based on the author's recent paper in Political Geography, examines how refugees transiting through one city – Belgrade, Serbia – found themselves entangled in a local redevelopment scheme and its biopolitical rationalities.  The paper argues that the biopolitics of urban environments – implicit and explicit rules about who can use spaces and when – are intertwined not only with neoliberalism but with the broader logic of migration policies and official refugee camps. It shows how refugees in Belgrade found themselves evicted, under surveillance or displaced from urban sites, but also – unlike other marginalised urban groups - simultaneously pushed towards local, EU-funded refugee camps. The paper discusses the range of spatial practices through which conduct of refugees is enacted, and thus builds on literature which suggests that physical spaces are often deployed against refugees and migrants. 

This is event is free and open to all, no need to register.

About the Speaker

Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik

Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Aston University

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