Cities on the Move: On Turbulent Urbanism of Irregular Migration
Lecture by Dr Irit Katz, University Lecturer in Architecture and Urban Studies, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge
The increasing fortification of national borders is producing new turbulent urban landscapes of irregular migration, which could be described as ‘cities on the move’. This is not only because certain cities make stopover points along ambitious trajectories of ‘people on the move’, but also because they create urban environments which are themselves rapidly ‘moving’ due to the opposite powers that work within and through them to hinder or facilitate irregular migration. This lecture discussed the urban spatial movements created by the efforts of global, regional, state and urban powers to regulate migration and by the forces opposing them, which together turn cities into contested arenas of unstable landing pads and jumping-off points along the increasingly blocked global routes of ‘unauthorized’ migration. Within these settings, the lecture analyzed particular urban environments, primarily institutional and makeshift camps and urban squats, used and created in the ‘departure cities’ of Athens, Calais and Paris by and for irregular migrants who were and still are suspended there as they attempt to cross heavily controlled internal European borders. These and similar cities, I argue, form fluctuating realities of institutional, makeshift, and hyper-mobile spaces. These urban spaces are created between violent exclusionary environments of control, abandonment, and xenophobic reactions, and between precarious actions of disobedience, provision and care formed by alternative urban alliances and radical forms of urban existence.
Dr Irit Katz is a University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Architecture and Urban Studies at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, and a Bye-Fellow of Christ’s College. She has practiced as an architect in Tel Aviv and in London and has an interdisciplinary academic background in architecture, hermeneutics, cultural studies, and global policy. Her work focuses on built environments created and shaped in extreme conditions, with a particular emphasis on spaces of displacement, migration and refuge in camps and in cities. She has published extensively on these subjects including the co-edited book Camps Revisited: Multifaceted Spatialities of a Modern Political Technology (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). Her forthcoming monograph, The Common Camp: Spaces of Power and Resistance in Israel-Palestine (University of Minnesota Press), examines how camps, whether employed by colonial, national and global powers as instruments of control or constructed as makeshift spaces of resistance and refuge, are used as versatile mechanisms through which populations and territories are administered, reshaped, and negotiated.