Urban infrastructures, migration and the reproduction of colonial forms of difference

Aidan Mosselson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter exposes the roles various urban infrastructures play in reproducing racialised identities and patterns of segregation in postcolonial European cities. It contributes to new ways of knowing European cities by highlighting how colonial histories and anti-migrant politics contribute to shaping everyday urban life. Based on research into forced migrants’ experiences of settling in Sheffield, a city located in the UK’s midlands, the chapter explores three types of infrastructure to highlight the ongoing salience of colonialism and racism in the UK. Firstly, by scrutinising the politics of urban space in Sheffield, the chapter illustrates how the built urban environment serves as an infrastructure of memorialisation that heralds white British histories, whilst occluding and denying the presence and contributions of other racialised groups in the city. Secondly, adopting a topological approach, the chapter shows how the spatial configuration of cities in the UK maintains patterns of segregation along racial and national lines. Finally, the chapter exposes the cumulative effects that the British government’s hostile approach towards migration has on experiences of and in urban space. To counter the predominantly exclusionary narrative and governance regime at work in the UK, the chapter also describes some of the spaces and practices in Sheffield that challenge the hostile approach to managing migration. These spaces and practices provide forced migrants with opportunities to be included in everyday urban life, and create pathways for creating a reimagined sense of European urbanity and identity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Cities
Subtitle of host publicationModernity, Race and Colonialism
EditorsNoa K Ha
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781526158444
ISBN (Print)9781526158437
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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