Session No.9 “Invisible migrants in the cities of the South”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsession promoted and organized by SSIIM Unesco Chair in the framework of the Annual RC21 Conference 2011 “The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings”
7-9 July 2011, Amsterdam /The Netherlands)

Session organizer: Giovanna Marconi, SSIIM Unesco Chair, Università Iuav di Venezia | Discussants: Dr. Raquel Rolnik, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing; Prof. Marcello Balbo, SSIIM Chairholder

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While in the Global North, multifaceted challenges of governing the increasingly diverse urban societies have received political and academic attention, a systematic analysis of the impacts of international migration in cities of developing countries is still lacking. The neglect of ‘immigration’ as one of the components of urban society, when coupled with an uncritical alignment with the global trend of criminalizing irregular migration, has prevented adequate local responses to the evolving contingencies of empirical circumstances. This leaves migrants settled in cities of the South with not many options, other than keeping a low profile and trying to stay invisible by devising unconventional practices of incorporation. The latter are usually confined to the informal sphere or to their ethnic networks.

This session welcomes papers providing evidence that international migration is an emerging issue also in many cities of the South. The emphasis is placed on how dominant frameworks and lack of awareness about immigrants stocks and flows might exclude foreign residents from the ‘right to the city’ where they live, with consequences on the overall social and spatial cohesion. Particular attention is given to migrants’ coping strategies and their construction of belonging and identity as urban residents, as well as to existing urban policies or practices fostering migrants’ urban inclusion. Other topics include, but are not limited to: opportunities and challenges international migration poses to the cities of the South; living conditions of migrants and barriers they face in accessing urban facilities and services; impacts of immigration on the social and spatial fabric of these cities; pioneering urban policies and creative practices relating to migrants inclusion; unconventional modes of incorporation and new forms of citizenship.


1) African Pentecostal migrants in China: Urban marginality and alternative geographies of a mission theology

by Heidi Østbø Haugen, PhD Scholar, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo


2) ’Brazilian territories-networks in urban Suriname’

by Rafael da Silva Oliveira, Federal University of Roraima, Department of Geography e Juan Miguel Kanai, University of Miami, Department of Geography and Regional Studies


3) ’Citizenship in the making: Mozambicans in Johannesburg’

by Elena Ostanel, PhD Candidate in Regional Planning and Public Policies and SSIIM Unesco Chair researcher, Università Iuav di Venezia


4) ’How are the life of Latin American immigrants in Brazilian cities: one approach of the water supply and sanitation conditions in the beginning of XXI Century’

by Denise Helena França Marques and Sonaly Cristina Rezende Borges de Lima, Federal University of Minas Gerais/Brazil


Abstracts should include the following information:

– The session to which the abstract is submitted.

– A synthesis of the issues to be addressed in the paper, the hypothesis underlying them, the empirical and/or the theoretical basis, and the structure of the paper (300-500 words).

– The contact of the author(s): Name(s), affiliation, address (including ZIP), a phone nr. (will not be made public) and an e-mail address.


The deadline for abstract submission is December 21st, 2010. (closed)

Abstracts should be sent by e-mail to and

Session organizers, together with the local organizers and RC21 will inform those who submitted an abstract upon its acceptance within January 25th 2011

Authors of accepted abstracts should send their paper not later than May 15th 2011 to: and to

The accepted papers will be published online on the website.

Authors of particularly interesting papers will be offered the possibility to publish their work on SSIIM Paper Series, after peer-review.

Conference fee

RC21 is a nonprofit Research Committee of the International Sociological Association (ISA), therefore in order to cover the conference costs it is necessary to pay a conference fee. The conference fees are available here

for more information:

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