Phokionos Negri Street in Kypseli, Athens
Paper presentation by Ares Kalandides and Dina Vaiou**
A. Concentrations of migrants in certain urban neighbourhoods in European cities have been a constant issue in political and academic debates about ethnic/racial difference with a recurrence of questions such as segregation, conflicts, racism, xenophobia or exclusion.
B. While we do not deny any of the above issues, we believe that there is both a political and a scholarly need to show that this picture is highly differentiated and that exclusion/inclusion is not an either/or question. The women and men who live in the city have, or may claim, a right to the city which includes on the one hand the right to appropriate urban space and on the other the right to participate in its production, in decisions about it, but also in (re)defining patterns of living it. We want to show how migrants reconfigure the meanings of belonging against dominant spatialisations through their everyday practices.
C. More or less institutionalized forms of political participation create new spatial levels of citizenship not limited to the scale of the nation state. Interactions among migrants and locals continuously re-define the ‘subject of rights’ as they activate processes of access, participation and inclusion/exclusion in/from the urban public sphere.
Our paper discusses the above processes and terms, drawing on examples from Berlin and Athens. We focus in particular on neighbouring as the space and resource of belonging and on how this is related to participation and urban citizenship. The two cities offer different contexts where institutional policies, informal practices and claims for participation at neighbourhood level define, in different ways, citizenship as a spatial strategy and help qualify the content of the “right to the city”. We draw from a number of research projects in which we have been involved since 2005 in Berlin and Athens where different “mixes” of formal and informal appropriation and participation processes can be identified. Continue reading