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Mobile Metropoles: Migration and Mobility

The ever-increasing mobility of the global population is characteristic of globalization since the nineteenth century. At the same time cities – from the port cities of the late-nineteenth century to today’s global metropoles – have conversely and permanently affected the dynamics of globalization. The graduate research program provides a context in which to examine this tension. Migration, due to its great sociological relevance, has been extensively researched in recent years. Our program aims to contribute to this growing body of work by focusing specifically on the urban consequences of migration and mobility: the design of urban spaces, the social impact of multi-ethnicity, and related discourses. For us, the central issues are the historical ramifications of social inequality and effects on the built and experiential environment of large metropoles.

We first will address the influence of migration on the built design of metropoles, predicated on the thesis that the manifold, often conflict-ridden challenges of metropolitan heterogeneity are manifested significantly in the planning and use of urban space. Secondly, we assume that historical and current dimensions of ethnic diversity and social mobility accumulate in cities and that metropolitanism is generated by the everyday interactions of different cultures. Thirdly, we address the question of the extent to which cities not only bear the marks of mobility and migration but are themselves the origin of these processes – cities as not only the product of globalization but rather as the impulse. Two dimensions in particular are central to this premise: on the one hand, the role of cities as bridgeheads for colonial expansion and, on the other, the role of metropoles as nodes in the global network. Our fourth area of study will focus on which roles migration, mobility, and multi-ethnicity have played in the discourse on metropolitan identity. How are these issues being debated and ideologically co-opted – and how have they been used in the past – for the benefit of certain political and economical interests?

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