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Accepted Paper:

Urban planning and representations of diversity in the context of the 'refugee crisis'  
Maria Schiller (Max Planck Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Based on anthropological research on urban planning processes in two German cities, this paper discusses the selective involvement of immigrants and the polarized representations of migration-led diversification as part of larger processes of differentiating the right to the city.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents findings from anthropological research on urban planning processes in two German cities in the context of the 'refugee crisis'. It analyses the ways in which diversity, and I am focusing here primarily on migration-induced changes of the local population, is explicitly or implicitly addressed in urban development projects. In both projects, migration-induced diversity has been perceived as a key characteristic of the neighbourhoods from the very start, and has been compounded by the allocation of large temporary asylum accommodation centres in these very neighbourhoods.

Based on participant observation in citizen involvement events and in so-called 'local partnerships', where local citizens regularly meet with the urban planners, I investigate how the right to the city is becoming differentiated in these urban development projects. I find struggles of urban planners as well as of the participating local population to negotiate diversity, as representations of diversity oscillate between idealizing diversity as profitable (connected with hopes for gentrification and a more dynamic future of the neighbourhood) and demonizing diversity as leading to ghettoization (connected with fears of the loss of value of one's property or of losing the status of the majority). I also identify the selection mechanisms for involving persons of immigrant background into urban planning projects, which also contributes to limiting the variety of represented conceptions of diversity.

Panel P078
The anthropology of urban development: its legacies and the human future
  Session 1