Metropolis 2014. Migrations: Energy for the planet, feeding cultures location:Milan, Italy date:3-7 November 2014
Large European cities are in a transition towards super-diversity (Vertovec, 2007; Geldof, 2013). The number of majority-minority cities increases: cities with a majority of their inhabitants rooted in migration (Crul, 2013) and an increasing diversity within groups with different ethnic, social, cultural or religious backgrounds.
In this transition towards superdiversity, we are confronted with an increase of flexible migration strategies, due to globalization, the increase of the EU and the economic crisis. Many contemporary migrants come and go, not always being sure how long they will stay in sending or receiving countries; when they will stop migrating; or where they will settle. The social life of these ‘mobile migrants’ or ‘transmigrants’ is not only oriented towards their new countries, but consists of complex transnational networks and contacts beyond boundaries. They shift between different visible and invisible, local and global networks. Many transmigrants face a high risk of social vulnerability.
The paper presents the results of an ongoing research on transmigration and its impact on Belgian cities. The research is based upon appr. 60 in-depth interviews with three different groups of transmigrants in the two main and super-divers Belgian cities: Brussels and Antwerp. We focus on Moroccan transmigrants (often migrating to Belgium from Spain, Italy or the Netherlands), Brazilian transmigrants (often transiting though Portugal or Spain) and Ghanaian transmigrants. Additionally this information was confronted with focus groups of urban social workers.
The paper first describes the relevance of the concept of superdiversity to analyse and understand urban transitions in Europe today. Within this framework it describes - secondly - the increase of transmigration and the importance of the transnational networks for these transmigrants. Finally it explores the challenges for urban social policy and policies on integration.