In her speech to the 2016 Conservative Party conference, Theresa May made the following statement “ … if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means”.
In this era plagued by doubt over what it means to ‘belong’ to a territorial boundary, amidst mass migration, populist nationalism, and politics that divide so vividly along geographical lines, what does it mean to be an urbanite? If the city has historically been seen as an “integration machine” (Keith 2016) the site where most people might describe themselves as “citizens of the world” and therefore, to others, “of nowhere,” then this seminar seeks to better understand boundaries of the urban in terms of migration. As borders tighten because of and against the will of many, are there increasing instances of people identifying as “citizens of the city” (or as “citizens of the non-city”)? And if migration has become a constitutive principle in the public’s understanding of city-ness, perhaps the urbanite as proponent of cosmopolitan nowhere-ism, then how must we now think of migration to places that are not framed as such (the ‘rural,’ the suburban, the post-industrial, etc.”)? In sum, as some boundaries become more rigid, and as resentment turns within, do boundaries of ‘the urban’ begin to transform?
This seminar series has been convened by Urban Transformations: an ESRC network, coordinated from the University of Oxford, showcasing research on cities. Our home is within COMPAS, and we have been working to explore the scholarly overlap between traditions of migration scholarship and urban studies.