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Report of Integrim workshop: Urban Migrants/Migrant Urbanisms: North and South. University of Sussex June 9th 2014.

This full day workshop focused on different aspects of migration and urbanisation, different ways of studying migration to urban areas and different theoretical aspects of the relationship between migration theory and urban theory. The day was well attended throughout with 20-30 people in the audience and excellent discussions. The day was organised in four sessions of an hour to an hour and a half each.

In the first session, Benjamin Dix of the University of Sussex presented two recent oral history projects, tracing migration histories of refugees from Sri Lanka in London and Somali migrants in six other European cities. The outcome of these projects is a graphic novel, relating the stories of the migrants interviewed. The original presentation is more than just an attractive way of presenting stories – they provide an original methodology, in the which testimonies are collected, expressed in graphic novel format and then discussed with the individual migrants during subsequent interviews in order to reconfirm their accounts and highlight aspects of their stories.

The second section was devoted to updates on research by core Integrim researchers. The two current fellows in Workpackage three are focused on integration at the city level – this provoked the theme of the workshop. Reinhard Schweitzer presented his final plans for research on the city level integration of undocumented migrants in London and Barcelona. Unfortunately, the other fellow, Julius Cezar Macarie, was unable to attend due to illness. Michael Collyer then presented ongoing research funded under the joint Dfid/IDRC ‘Safe and Inclusive Cities’ programme, looking at forced resettlement in Colombo and Jaffna. The main quantitative research stage has just been completed and initial data demonstrates how dissatisfied most people are with their new housing arrangements.

Immediately after lunch, Tiziana Caponio of the University of Turin presented a long standing research project on processes of integration in Italian cities. She questioned the nature of policy convergence, arguing that the convergence argument emerges from a set of quite well established case studies, such as Copenhagen or Amsterdam, but does not necessarily fit all investigation of integration policy at local level.

The final session of the day was a discussion of a recently funded project entitled ‘Migrants on the Margins’ which explores migration to six cities in Africa and Asia. A roundtable of researchers on the project (Andrew Baldwin from the University of Durham; Maryann Bylander and Laura Hammond from SOAS and JoAnn McGregor from Sussex). The themes discussed included the distinctions between the standard focus of the cities and migration literature on Europe and North America and operating in countries which are much less happy about the spatial distribution of population. It was much more likely for national and city governments in Africa and Asia to try to restrict or reduce migration to large cities than is the case in Europe and North America, reflecting a more common characterisation of migration as a problem.

Overall, discussions and questions explored