Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Secondary Theme: Cities
Forced Migrants in Urban Spaces: Adaptation and Resilience across Borders
Forced migration continues to increase globally as refugees, IDPs, return migrants, and others create new homes and communities away from their place of origin. These movements impact societies, both domestically and internationally. Our focus in this panel is to examine, through an anthropological lens, emerging communities in urban settings around the world. How have exiled communities maintained their sense of self, built resilience, adapted or resisted adapting to their new urban environment? What forms of violence do they encounter? What types of resources do they draw upon for survival in the city? How do migrants refashion their communities along ethnic lines and employ culture in exile?
In this panel we are specifically interested in how forced migrants interact with the urban where it is difficult to know their precise numbers, needs, and the challenges they encounter. In addition, nation states that hold increasing anti-immigrant sentiments create additional barriers to successful settlement. The politics of migration in urban spaces has become especially precarious because migrants living in the city are both visible and invisible. While the city offers more opportunity for migrants to assimilate and adapt than a refugee camp, living in an urban setting highlights the vulnerability of refugees and other migrants as they have limited access to services and become political subjects in the city.
We seek to examine the many ways forced migrants resist, adapt, and survive in different urban settings across the world. This includes looking at the ways in which Burundian refugees in Clarkston, Georgia employ culturally informed coping mechanism(s) to highlight their culture in their new home. On the other hand, Rohingya refugees in New Delhi resist the attempts of the Indian government to deport them by appealing to media outlets. Palestinian refugees in the Old City of Damascus challenge their slum-like housing conditions and find ways to create political and social networks that help them survive in exile. While young Guatemalans deported from the United States find new strategies to survive the street violence of cities in Guatemala. And in Germany, Silesian post-WWII refugees express the complexities of policies expectations that describe them as integrated and assimilated.
The collection of papers in this panel draws on the vicissitudes of mobility across the globe. The resilience of migrants in our work speaks to how the aftermath of displacement can, in some cases, bring migrant communities together while in other cases bring host-communities together in opposition to them. We demonstrate how forced migrants have developed different ways that allow them to not simply integrate, but to adapt, resist, and build resilience to an ever-changing urban circumstance.