Human Geography

Our Human Geography list tackles the big issues, from equality to population growth to sustainability, publishing in cultural and social geography, development geography, political geography, qualitative and quantitative research methods and urban geography.

The list includes internationally renowned names such as Danny Dorling, Loretta Lees and Anne Power. We publish a range of formats including research books that bridge theory and apply it to practice.

Human Geography

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This introductory chapter frames the wider book as a critical engagement with the discursive figure of the ‘internally displaced person’ and the use of this label by various actors in the context of conflict-linked migration and urbanization. The chapter presents the methodology that underpinned the research on which its findings are based. It explains and reflects upon the use of narrative interviews, participatory photography and public exhibitions/discussions to generate insight on the nexus of displacement and urbanization from the perspectives and everyday experiences of marginalized populations living in conditions of extreme socio-economic precarity. The concept of precarious urbanism is introduced as the process by which mobile, constantly shifting patterns of arrival, settlement, camp transformation, eviction and resettlement manifest in the morphologies of the four cities under focus and shape trajectories of urban development and ways of living. The chapter explains the thematic structure of the book and the different aspects of this precarious urbanism that are analysed in each.

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This chapter explores how people displaced to cities understand their longer- and shorter-term prospects and the impacts of internationally backed ‘durable solutions’ interventions. The chapter discusses how in-migrants think about their (new) urban lives and the potential for ‘return’ mobility. It then focuses on how local resettlement schemes in Bosaso and Hargeisa have created new clusters of peripheral settlements with varying connections to the main cities. This section analyses resettled residents’ different experiences of land tenure and material opportunities or constraints in these new liminal urban spaces, which themselves have significant effects on wider dynamics of city growth. The chapter argues that categorizations of displacement are spatialized in these initiatives and structure relations between people who have newly settled in the city and those who consider themselves indigenous residents. Tensions exist between co-produced narratives of pan-Somali solidarity and experiences of belonging and discrimination aligned with place, race, clan, caste and ethnicity. The chapter shows that the discursive and spatial reordering of urban populations, in the context of the durable solutions framework, relies on and reproduces reductive labels of displacement, which fold themselves into local contestations over citizenship and belonging.

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Displacement, Belonging and the Reconstruction of Somali Cities

This book explores relationships between war, displacement and city-making. Focusing on people seeking refuge in Somali cities after being forced to migrate by violence, environmental shocks or economic pressures, it highlights how these populations are actively transforming urban space.

Using first-hand testimonies and participatory photography by urban in-migrants, the book documents and analyses the micropolitics of urban camp management, evictions and gentrification, and the networked labour of displaced populations that underpins growing urban economies. Central throughout is a critical analysis of how the discursive figure of the ‘internally displaced person’ is co-produced by various actors. The book argues that this label exerts significant power in structuring socio-economic inequalities and the politics of group belonging within different Somali cities connected through protracted histories of conflict-related migration.

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This chapter examines patterns of physical mobility and virtual circuits that connect people in urban camps to resources and interlocutors throughout the wider city. Focusing on the labour relations and forms of petty entrepreneurship that emerge within and from these marginalized settlements, it emphasizes their gendered character and the ways in which they constitute and sustain economic precarity. Mobile phone infrastructure enables many of these labour practices, and the chapter considers the significance of the burgeoning Somali telecommunications sector within the wider displacement urbanization nexus. The chapter highlights various uses and risks of virtual connectivity for urban in-migrants, and the impacts of ICT-enabled information and resource flows on mobility and settlement patterns. Examining the linkages between labour, livelihood strategies and digital connectivity, it discusses the role of mobile money in the working lives of urban in-migrants. Interrogating linked discourses of digital inclusion and entrepreneurial innovation in refugee policymaking, the chapter emphasizes the ambiguous impacts of connectivity on the social and economic lives of people in marginalized urban settlements. Technologies do not work outside of existing layers of gendered, raced and classed inequalities, and, as a consequence, can exacerbate unequal social and spatial distributions of hardship and immiseration in the city.

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Chapter 8 foregrounds how intimacy and romantic relationships, or the lack thereof, and (im)mobility are intertwined, and present another factor shaping migratory ‘work-life pathways’. This chapter reveals how perspectives and rationales change over time and teases out how intimate relationships provide the stability and security to anchor migrants in the long term. It demonstrates that the EU Generation gradually experience emplacement and develop ties to communities in and segments of their migrant receiving societies in the Asian global cities Singapore and Tokyo. That said, mobility has become an underlying thread of the life trajectories of these middle-class migrants. While the migrants might feel at home, they seldom rule out the possibility of leaving again. Mobility and roots, and thus the possibility of having a home abroad without settling down, do not contradict. Further mobility or staying decisions increasingly depend on romantic partners and the possibility of both partners legally residing and working in the host country.

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Chapter 6 unearths how the entanglements of gender, ‘race’, age and generation, as well as class identities shape the EU Generation’s work experience in the destination cities. This chapter conceptualises migrants’ employment and career development by their ‘Other’ identity as a way to unearth how work and (im)mobility affect each other. Integrating gender in the analysis reveals differences in the two cities. Yet, the comparison also highlights how this generational cohort value work as an undeniable factor of identity-making. As middle-class migrants, they are often unwilling and insecure about forfeiting their career for a family. This raises questions about the value of work in neoliberal labour markets but also about the taken-for-grantedness of having a family at a certain life stage – or at all. Augmented by ongoing geographical mobility, frequent organisational mobility, and the anxiety of becoming socially immobile, many migrants project family plans into a vague point in the future.

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The conclusion highlights the complex decision-making processes and the structural constraints involved in migrants’ geographical, organisational/career and social mobility. It emphasises the significance that the three entangled dimensions of mobility assume for the EU Generation’s pursuit of middle-class life paths in Asian global cities. The longitudinal research foregrounds how the particular generation and life stage upon the EU Generation’s emigration from Europe have turned geographically distant Asian cities into attractive destinations for career progression and distinction in a time of flexible labour and shorter employment contracts. Previously accumulated mobility capital and the notion of insecurity lying ahead in any globalised labour market render continuous mobility or residence abroad the most reasonable path to choose for the time being and thus pave the way for an entire life stage, or longer, in Asia. The discussion identifies remaining and newly emerging obstacles to the incorporation of independently moving middle-class migrants such as the EU Generation in both cities. In doing so, the conclusion reaffirms the rationale for considering Singapore and Tokyo, and potentially other non-Western global cities, as a viable option and a potentially long-term residence for the EU Generation and middle-class labour migrants in general.

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Chapter 2 depicts the contexts of labour migration to contemporary Singapore. As a consequence of the developmental state’s social engineering, epitomised by the principles of multiracialism and multiculturalism, as well as extensive foreign labour import, contemporary Singapore is characterised by postcolonial diversities and a bifurcated migration regime. Singapore’s immigration policies and migrants’ opportunities in the city-state have changed since the late 2000s, and these changing conditions constitute the background against which the young Europeans hope to develop a career and potentially grow footholds in the country. The chapter ends by introducing the legal and institutional framework the EU Generation use for accessing work visa and the labour market.

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Part I of this book, Spatial Mobility to Asia: Moving Ahead by Moving out, examines the EU Generation’s physical movement, that is, migration to Asia. Chapter 1 uses statistics and qualitative data from interlocutors’ youth in Europe in order to delineate how European university students of the EU Generation grew up in what they perceive to be a thrilling yet competitive educational environment – one that values overseas experiences and suggests these to be a prerequisite for a fulfilling and successful professional career. The chapter then discusses the related literature on intra-European mobility, educational migration and the labour market before it introduces the theoretical approach to class in migration. The remaining chapter categorises the EU Generation’s varied migration motivations into four major types. The typology demonstrates how different forms of capital are converted or validated in the migration of each type and underlines that across all types mobility becomes a form of capital in itself, one that helps explain how the EU Generation secure employment in Asian global cities.

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Middle-Class Aspirations in Asian Global Cities
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Drawing on an extensive study with young individuals who migrated to Singapore and Tokyo in the 2010s, this book sheds light on the friendships, emotions, hopes and fears involved in establishing life as Europeans in Asia.

It demonstrates how migration to Asian business centres has become a way of distinction and an alternative route of middle-class reproduction for young Europeans during that period. The perceived insecurities of life in the crisis-ridden EU result in these migrants’ onward migration or prolonged stays in Asia.

Capturing the changing roles of Singapore and Japan as migration destinations, this pioneering work makes the case for EU citizens’ aspired lifestyles and professional employment that is no longer only attainable in Europe or the West.

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