Diasporic Urbanism

Title: Diasporic urbanism: concepts, agencies & ‘mapping otherwise’

Author: Nishat Awan

Year: 2011

Abstract: The term ‘diasporic urbanism’ addresses the difficulties of operating with diasporic space and of accommodating the material complexities of migrant lives. It proposes displacement and reterritorialisations as methodologies and ‘mapping otherwise’ as a tool for representing and working with migrant spatialities. Through engaging with a series of everyday spaces the research reveals how diasporas produce new types of spaces and develop new subjectivities in the contemporary European metropolis. These include a street in East London where frequent protests were organised by the Kurdish community, a space whose physicality forces a certain visibility on to those who traverse it; Turkish and Kurdish kahve (cafés) on the same street; and a park in East London that through being claimed by one diasporic group has come to symbolise wider notions of political representation. The mapping of these particular spaces addressed the question: within the networked, global condition of the migrant, what objects, subjects and processes can play the role of mediation and translation that is required between ‘here and there’, or between the layers of a multiple subject? The need for such approaches is apparent in the increasing diversity of European cities.