Unseen Infrastructures: post-colonial migration, unseen labour and maintenance and repair in British cities


Dr Aidan Mosselson


Birmingham SkylineMy research project sits at the intersection of migration studies, critical thinking around infrastructure and maintenance, and decolonial theory. It aims to examine the relationships between post-colonial migration, unseen labour, maintenance and repair of (public) infrastructure, and the reproduction of racialized identities and spaces in British cities. Intended research will comprise detailed ethnographies with people from various migrant backgrounds working in industries which support and maintain daily life in the UK, for example cleaning, care work and warehouse and packaging.

The aim of the project is to produce detailed narratives of people's commuting experiences, housing situations and movements across different parts of the city, particularly when they are doing shift or after-hours work. Research will highlight the unseen, taken-for-granted work which goes into maintaining cities, and will centre the people who perform these tasks and their reflections on them.

The research will also shed light on the infrastructures which support and sustain migrant communities in British cities, as well as the infrastructures which regulate and order their experiences, working conditions and identities.

Focus on migrant groups is intended to explore the intertwining of contemporary urban life with relations and networks of movement established during the period of British colonialism, and to draw attention to the ways in which these legacies continue to shape and contribute to urban life in Britain today.

Funded by:

Newton International Fellowships