“Diverse engagements: migration led diversification and transformations of urban society and space”

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting

Chicago November 20-24, 2013



Kristen Biehl (PhD Candidate, Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology / Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford)

Dr. Susanne Wessendorf (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Max Plank Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)

Discussant: Prof. Steven Vertovec (Director, Max Plank Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)


Panel description:

Following several decades of prevailing interest first in ethnicity, then transnationalism, the anthropology of migration has recently started taking an urban diversity turn. This arises through recognition of the need to theorize the complexity of migrant experiences within urban settings located at the crossroads of variable and multiple migration flows. Moreover, conventional approaches to migration that focused on ethnicity and race are appearing increasingly inadequate for understanding immigration patterns comprised of new and intricately interplayed diversity variables, including gender and age, migration purpose and channel, immigration status, labor market profile, local responses to immigration, and modes of transnationalism. This panel contributes toward a globally comparative understanding of the variable social and spatial manifestations of immigration-led diversities in cities around the world. We invite papers that deal especially with one or more of the following questions:

  • How are changing diversities being experienced in urban settings impacted by global migration flows?
  • What are the emerging salient markers and meanings of difference conditioning interactions within urban contexts of intense and continuous migration-led diversification?
  • How are new patterns of, and engagements with, diversity being mapped onto space and how, as a result, is space being transformed?
  • How are increasingly diversifying urban settings being governed and how, as a result, are regimes of governance transforming?
  • How do “newer” forms of diversity intersect with “older”, more localized conceptions and configurations of difference?

This panel also aims to expand beyond the traditional specialization of anthropology in doing research with particular groups by exploring the methodological question of how we can best study, ethnographically, multiple modes of difference in localities comprised of multiple (ethnic, linguistic, religious, class-based) affiliations, which is a question that remains a core concern in foreseeing the globalized future of anthropology.


If interested please submit the following information to Kristen Biehl ( by March 25th.

Name, institutional affiliation, Paper title, 250 word abstract, contact information.

More information about the AAA Annual Meeting in general is available online:

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