Posted on April 10, 2012
To research relations between migration and city change and answer research questions a multiperspective and interdisciplinary but also trans disciplinary perspective is necessary. This perspective is to be intensified by the combination of different methods. The aim of the study of transnational phenomena in the city is the empirical observation and analysis of transnational activities and associated social forms, which create transnational space and must be put in a political and economical context. To do this, it is necessary to consider the available methods and concepts from different disciplines and to link them interdisciplinary to each other. Regardless of the methods in each study the individuals and their position in transmigration space play a central role.
For analysis of the visible phenomena of migration in the urban context, I have developed my own method, which consists of following:first the material collection, secondly the attempts to record the global, transnational, yet locally anchored space, and third, simultaneously production of a tool out of my practice, which can be used and reshaped by other city researchers.
These are promenading video interviews with urban stakeholders, city planners and activists with and without a migration background. During the promenading interview I don’t film the interviewees but the environment. This visual part is very important in order to be able to convey the qualities of the city parts, which are hard to measure. The video part of the interview will also be recorded. Interviewees choose the walking the route by themselves, which is anchored in a particular district connected to the issues of migration and migrational practice, and thus share their knowledge about the city with me and others.
I’ve planned to do about five to seven video interviews in each of the three cities. As preparation for my research I undertook a research trip to Sarajevo in 2009 and 2010 to St. Louis. There I made contact with stakeholders in particular city parts, with and without migrational background and also with city planners, artists and activist.
Selection of interviewees
This is not a comparative work, it is much more a try with every additional city to get answers to questions, which wasn’t possible from the previous view. The starting point is in Vienna, where the guest workers had a huge impact on the city but where the image of migrants also became very diverse in the last twenty years.
From here I go back to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to explore what happened to the empty space which was left behind, and also how the links and the transnational space between the residents and the people living in diaspora are built, maintained and influenced by each other. To complete the picture, I went to St. Louis, USA where a large living Bosnian community reshaped that city, in order to explore and open the possibilities for migrants when they land in an official immigration country. This is a linking work, which attempts to get a better understanding of the global movements and their impact on the cities through linking and networking cities and events.
Depending on the city the interviewees come from different disciplines, what unites them is their special relationship to the particular part of the city. This relation may result from their own experience of migration, or of their profession and personal engagement with the district.
So one can distinguish following topics: in Vienna, we speak mainly about urban renewal processes caused by migration, in Sarajevo about migrant identities and transnational relations and their impact on the city and the society, and in St. Luois again about city renewal process in a country of immigration and migrant identities and transnational relations.
Resulting migrated interviews are transcribed and, together with the meeting notes coded and analyzed. These interviews are arranged by topic and will be posted on shiftthecity.net in order to serve as knowledge pool for city planners. An interactive web portal on migration and city is to be created during the research. Thus, my theoretical work is simultaneously converted into a practical work. I see this web portal as an experiment with an open end which can also influence my research.
The video interviews with central figures in the local communities provide information on the visible migration phenomena in the urban context, on the other hand, also art projects, films, exhibitions and other work on migration are to be analyzed and their translatability into scientific work is to be reviewed.