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Migrants and access to the city

Migrants et accès à la ville

Migrantes y acceso a la ciudad

Revue « Espaces et Sociétés »

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Published on Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Recently, the scale of migration has generated strong images and speech that on one hand incite an urge to situate these events in academic debates, and also to participate in their objectification. This issue of E & S concerns access to the city by migrants, considering such access as an intermediate step between the flow of migration and registration (one time, temporary or permanent) of people in specific spaces. We expect proposals from those hoping to analyze the materiality of access points, technologies that accompany these processes, objects that materialize migratory situations, and finally, the temporal dimension of space. Empirical research from so-called “developing” countries will be valued highly and will be conducive to the renewal of analytical and operational framework categories, often forged in the North.



Recent events related to the arrival of refugees or asylum seekers and the reappearance of forms of precarious habitat that seemed to have disappeared in Europe call into question the issue of migrants1 access to the city. If these questions are not new and have already been widely debated in the social sciences, we argue for a revisiting of this problem by focusing on the local effects of migrants’ appearance in the city, both in countries in the Global North as well as in the Global South; whether migration is from a distance or from more proximate origins. We thus invite authors to question the concept of access – which refers as much etymologically to the approach of urban space as it does the manner in which it “agrees” to welcome migrants – across the sites that materialize this access.Generally the concept of access is understood in terms of mobility and transport in relation to the ‘city’; or in terms of resources, difficulties and inequality (see current issue E&S) as when it deals with the subject of ‘housing’. As for work on migration, academic works tends to oscillate between two interpretations of migrants, dividing emigration from immigration. This issue of Espaces et Sociétés intends to theorize the problem differently by considering access to the city as both an intermediate step in the flow of migration, and dependent on the type of entry (one time, temporary or permanent) of a person in specific urban spaces.

To characterize migrant access to the city, we offer three types of questions:

The categorization of access to the city in its relation to the formal and normative city

The reality of migration generated public debate using new expressions that come to question the scientific categorization of migrants: The designation of people (migrants, immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees, inhabitants of the camps, urban refugees); migration management systems (detention center consolidation, camp center, encampment, village insertion, transit center, cited transit), and finally the institutionalization of legitimate standards including sanitary control, insalubrity, adaptation criteria, the 'integration project', etc. The difficulty of stabilizing the terminology invites us to analyze the categorization processes at work, particularly in relation to what would become normalized in an urban context. The authors are invited to examine the forms of habitat resulting from migration in terms of their relationship to the city, which can highlight:

- Interstices of the legalized city proper (squatting in slums)

- Institutional forms and measures (camp, camping, ‘bridging housing’, shelters, mobile villages, ‘insertion villages’, cities of transit).

Access to the city: insertion and / or integration

We propose to seize access to the city through insertion and integration. These two concepts, strongly used in France, are often mobilized for housing issues (called insertion through housing); or individuals (integration into society). They are sometimes understood as chronological when they describe an individual’s course of action (integration would succeed insertion), however we propose to take them as two modes of migrant reception by differentiating them according to their etymological meaning – inserire, meaning “put in the queue, insert, insert” when integratus qualifies someone with integrity, impeccable, intact, and accomplished (Robert Dictionary). If the report on insertion is generally accepted, however, integration is still little discussed, as this terminology is widely mobilized to qualify integration (or lack thereof) of migrants into society. How might these two approaches account for various reports of access to the city? Would empirical research possess the capacity to identify places where insertion has seen more success than integration?

Access to the city: between management and the sustainability of the transient

Finally, what is the permanence of places which are deemed to fit the criteria for appropriate migrant access to the city? We propose that we look at two types of processes and categories, permanent and transitional:

- The places open to the transitional housing are characterized by the ephemeral nature of the housing that is built there, the precariousness of their materials, etc…

- The arrival points in the city where housing is considered permanent even if the occupants do not remain long: it may be a matter of different places or the same once one becomes permanent housing.

Proposals might explore: the materiality of sites of access to the city (morphology, spatial registration, etc.); the devices that accompany the access process (social support, family support, etc.); the types of housing for access to the city (temporary accommodation, self-built housing, forced housing). Finally, the temporal dimension of these places (emergency, temporary versus permanent).

The proposals from various disciplines (history, geography, sociology, anthropology, political science, architecture, etc.) are welcome. Empirical research on so-called “developing” countries will be valued, and are highly conducive to the renewal of analytical and operational framework categories, often forged in the North.


  • Elise Roche , Maître de conférence à l’INSA Lyon (dépt GCU. Laboratoire Triangle)
8 rue des Sports
69621 Villeurbanne cedex 
  • Fatiha BELMESSOUS, Chercheure / Researcher, Université de Lyon / ENTPE / UMR 5600 EVS
Rue Maurice Audin
F 69518 Vaulx-en-Velin cedex
00 (33) + 4 72 04 77 29


  • 1 October 2016: deadline for submitting articles

  • November 15, 2016 : information for authors

Adress for correspondence

Exclusively electronically by email to the following addresses:



Authors with questions concerning the relevance of their proposal

can contact the coordinators


- The review does not want proposals for articles but the articles directly,

- Articles should not exceed 42 000 characters (including spaces) including: text, notes, references, appendices, but excluding abstracts.

- Advice to authors appear in each issue.

-  The standards of presentation and advice to authors
are available on the website of the journal:


- The review notes that at any time authors may submit articles 'hors dossier', outside of the themes of the issues on the topics of relationship between spaces, territories and populations broadly understood and meeting publication standards; if accepted, these articles are published quickly.

1 The categories of designation of populations as places were produced by administrations or organizations responsible for these populations, we italicize these terminologies as a methodological caution (the categories are built for convenience and not knowledge). 


  • Saturday, October 01, 2016


  • accès, migrants, temporalité, ville, lieux

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Anne de Reyniès
    courriel : espacesetsocietes [at] msh-paris [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Migrants and access to the city », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, https://calenda.org/364012

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