PhD opportunity on migration, cities and inequality

Fantastic opportunity to undertake a PhD at the Centre for Doctoral Training in in Emerging Urban Inequalities. You will receive advanced and interdisciplinary training within a dynamic mentoring and supervisory system.



Lead: Melanie Lombard, Lecturer, Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Hannah Lewis, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Sociological Studies 

Vanesa Castán Broto, Professor of Climate Urbanism, Department of Geography and Urban Institute

Migratory flows are one of the key challenges of the 21st century, with cities forming major poles and conduits of these flows. While migration due to economic need has been the subject of much policy and academic attention, the issue of forced migration to urban areas (whether internal or international) remains less well- recognised. Some forms of forced migration are well-established in policy and academic debates (e.g. due to conflict), while some are only recently recognised and remain contested (e.g. due to climate change). As cities and urban areas are transforming rapidly, challenges arise in terms of inadequate and overloaded infrastructure, social tensions, increased poverty and inequality.

The capacity to respond to old and new migratory challenges depends on the specifics of the context: how and where new migrants settle, how they combine permanent and temporary forms of migration, what new patterns of urbanisation they create. The UNHCR’s recognition of urban refugees has been accompanied by a collapse of compassion in the public sphere, and a generalised politics of exclusion, across Europe. Yet cities remain sites of both vulnerability and opportunity, housing many innovative grassroots responses to migration and inequality. Climate-induced migration is increasingly recognised as a significant influence on urban change and inequality, in the context of new forms of climate urbanism. Examples such as the Climate Refugee Network of Barcelona show the potential of urban areas to deliver social innovations that respond directly to these emerging challenges.

This project aims to capture experiences of migration in at least two case study cities from the global North and/or South, in order to compare experiences and foster cross-contextual learning around the effects of forced migration on cities and specifically on urban inequality. The project will first examine the patterns of migration and urbanisation, using the existing available data, to identify key patterns of urban transformation and how they are likely affecting new urban life. This will help to select priority locations for the research. The project will move to examine responses to forced migration (linked to conflict and/or climate change, broadly interpreted) in different cities, focusing particularly on grassroots led or linked initiatives, while also seeking to critically interrogate categories of forced migration. This will build on the ERC project Low Carbon Action in Ordinary Cities.

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