Building a welcoming city
Cities have always been a world of strangers; that is a place where people who don’t know each other – from different countries, different cultures, different beliefs or simply different places of birth – have to live together. It is precisely this diversity, which is one of the major factors of urban development that at the same time provides sources of innovation and fears. The story of urban development is hence a story of the way cities throughout time have managed the arrival and the longer-term inclusion of migrants, be they from rural areas or foreign countries.
Today more than ever this question remains central to the development of cities throughout the world. Indeed, the flows of migration are in constant growth as well as the diversity of the migration and the situation of newcomers (refugee, illegal workers, expats, circulatory migrant, neo-nomads, tourists etc.). In 2009, UN Habitat estimated that 3m people were moving to cities every week. So how do those people find their place in the city they come to?
We can define urban hospitality as the way a city’s social, political, spatial and economic structure allows a newcomer to take place in it: i.e. find a place to live, access to basic amenities, find a job and also is able to develop social relations. One of the major historical models of urban hospitality was linked with the existence in cities of poor and usually informal neighbourhoods – such as old ghettos – where migrants were temporarily or permanently resident. They were places to hide from the police but also to access solidarity networks (but also exploitation ones). Contemporary slums in southern cities but also northern cities, ethnic neighbourhoods or squats continue to play a major role in the ambiguous welcoming potential of a city.
Challenger | Luca Pattaroni, EPFL Laboratoire de Sociologie Urbaine
Luca Pattaroni holds a ph’d in Sociology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris). He is Maître d’Enseignement et de Recherche at the Laboratory of Urban Sociology of the EPFL where he leads the research group « City, Habitat and Collective Action ». He has been visiting professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and visiting scholar at the University of Columbia. He is board member of the Swiss Journal of Sociology and of Articulo, The Journal of Urban Research. He is also President of the artist and culture cooperative Resources Urbaines and member of the Consultary Cultural Council of the Canton of Geneva.
His work is concerned with the expression of differences and the making of the common in contemporary capitalist cities through a critical study of urban policies and assemblages. His researches tackle, among other, housing issues, public spaces, cultural and urban movements. Among his latest publications: « An expatriate’s ethnoscape: the impact of the United Nations Office on urban settings and space in Geneva » (with Hossam Adly), Terceiro Millenio : Revista Critica de Sociologia et Politica; « New genre public commission? The subversive dimension of public art in post-Fordist capitalism » (with Thierry Maeder and Mischa Piraud). in Luger J., Ren J., Art and the City, Worlding the Discussion through a critical artscape, New York, Routledge, 147-165.