Migrant urbanisms, identity politics and claims to the city: Latin American commercial spaces in London

Businesses are at the heart of inner-city regeneration and at the centre of government initiatives for economic development. Empowering local communities in the transformation of places to encourage a greater sense of belonging, and the development of locally-sensitive policy frameworks for urban regeneration in London, are testament to the centrality of businesses, places and people in visions and aspirations for London as a global city.

In London regeneration is taking place in some of the most deprived and ethnically diverse boroughs. Thus, regeneration disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities across the UK’s regions, cities and town centres. Spaces long inhabited by migrant and ethnic businesses could be lost as a result of intensive regeneration projects, contributing to further isolation, inequality, displacement, lack of ownership and sense of belongingness. The vibrant multicultural environment of London’s multi-ethnic business clusters where small independent businesses and community members can thrive, is at risk.

Using the experience of working with Latin American retailers in London and many years of research with London’s Latin American commercial spaces in the capital the current presentation seeks to explore through whether claims to the global city become stronger or diluted under conditions of greater political and economic uncertainty.

I will explore whether strategies and manifestations of migrant urbanism could provide a useful critique to the perspective that privileges efficiency of resources for London as a global city at the expense of socio–economic and distributional impact of regeneration for particular communities and the identity politics behind such strategies.