In the context of ever-accelerating globalisation processes and devastating regional wars, Europe today is faced with new patterns of migration that pose a challenge to urban transformation initiatives and put public authorities to the test. These new migration patterns are linked to the global integration of cities and regions into new circuits of capital, goods and knowledge, adding to the establishment of new regional hierarchies. Cities increasingly have to filter and manage these flows, thereby rendering the national level less important and creating new spaces for urban articulation. Current trends in migration and urban transformation efforts exhibit remarkable parallels to the first period of modern industrial globalisation in the late 19th and early 20th century, while also differing in certain respects.
Analogous to this historical period, new groups of immigrants are today arriving, affecting the neighborhoods in which they are settling and rapidly changing the social composition of the urban population. They are involved in reshaping the urban fabric. Consequently, cities face manifold challenges. Yet relying on previous approaches to dealing with migration may not be helpful. Some urban regions experience strong population growth, while others are shrinking. At the same time, regional disparities in Europe are widening and social cohesion is eroding. Furthermore, social inequalities and cultural conflicts are on the rise in city regions, mirroring the situation during the first period of modern industrial globalisation. Then, just like today, metropolises had socially diverse populations which attracted large numbers of immigrants. Like during the 19th century, today’s cities must integrate the new arrivals and allow them to participate in urban and regional regeneration efforts.
These observations present strong arguments for re-evaluating these historical experiences and initiating a debate among urban historians, sociologists, geographers and planners on these matters. Guiding questions include: What is the role of migration for urban regeneration? In which respect did/does migration interact with urban transformation? Which parallels exist between different periods of economic development and respective patterns of migration? And what may we learn from such comparative analysis?
The programme is divided into four sub-sections: First, contemporary local responses towards the integration of refugees into the social fabric of cities are discussed. Second, strategies for overcoming urban crises and for driving urban regeneration are highlighted. The third section focuses on the ways cities deal with growing diversity and heterogeneity, and the fourth section puts migration and urban change into a historical perspective.