Migration and diversity in the entrepreneurial city: Setting the scene for the new urban imaginaries
14th Conference of the European Sociological Association, “Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging”, University of Manchester, UK. 20-23 August 2019.
Drawing from field work in Lisbon and Buenos Aires, the paper examines how processes of regeneration of the inner-city have been consistently linked to cultural diversity mobilization. Ethnographic and qualitative research was carried out in specific urban spaces where culture-led regeneration is underway. The selection of such spaces was premised on the idea of avoiding the usual suspects in urban studies such as the big capitals of the northern hemisphere. We argue that migration cultural traits are brought into such processes through cultural mediatory mechanisms that are specific to entrepreneurial cities’ models. We integrate in our analysis a wide range of actors involved in urban governance, from municipal authorities, through immigrant organizations, to migrant entrepreneurs and gentrifiers, in order to provide a complete interpretation of such mechanisms. Findings show that cities pursue similar strategies of coping with migrant-driven cultural diversity implying three main dimensions: aestheticization, place marketing and “ethnic showcasing”. We raise some conceptual and policy related questions about new regimes of visibility and forms of social organization of difference specific to the entrepreneurial city.