Simon Parker: New Migrant Space in Urban Europe: Suspended Citizenship and the Challenge of Integration

Two people on scaffolding working on a brick building behind a tree.

Renovated social housing for asylum seekers, Kaiserslautern, Germany. photo / Simon Parker

Russell Van Nest Black Lecture

Simon Parker is a senior lecturer in politics and former director of the School of Social and Political Sciences, codirector of the Centre for Urban Studies, and cochair of the Migration Network at the University of York, England. He was principal investigator for the Economic and Social Research Council–funded project, "Precarious Trajectories: Understanding the Human Cost of the Migrant Crisis in the Central Mediterranean." His books include Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge, 2004 and 2015 second edition) and Cities, Politics and Power (Routledge, 2011). Parker is a member of the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR) and CITY,and former editor of IJURR's Debates and Developments section. He has held visiting professorships at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver; the University of Manchester; and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published numerous chapters and articles on urban and regional governance and politics in Europe and North America and he has written for OpenDemocracy, The Guardian, Die Welt, and Le Monde Diplomatique.


In 2015, more than one million forcibly displaced people crossed the Mediterranean by boat. Many succeeded in finding refuge in Germany and Sweden, but tens of thousands found themselves trapped in Greece and Italy, unable to reunite with their family members. Derelict and abandoned land, railway and bus stations, bridges, and disused buildings became home to a growing undocumented migrant population who could neither regularize themselves as lawful residents nor legally access work, education, health, housing, or social services. The notorious ex-"Jungle" camp in Calais, France, was but the most well-known example of abject migrant spaces across Europe that have been subject to frequent and often violent police suppression. In this lecture, Parker looks at how marginal urban spaces have been transformed by the presence of these "suspended lives," but also how local authorities and nongovernmental organizations have succeeded in making new arrivals welcome and integrated within the local community.

Close overlay