Arrival Infrastructures and migrant newcomers in European cities

  • Wessendorf, Susanne (Principal Investigator)
  • Arnaut, Karel (Co-Investigator)
  • Hanhörster, Heike (Co-Investigator)

Project: Research

Project Details


One of the big issues European societies face is the immigration of migrants from various parts of the world. While European states grapple with the management of immigration flows, the challenge faced on the ground is, in fact, the challenge of migrant inclusion and exclusion. Our established paradigms for examining immigration assume that migrants settle in areas populated by national majorities, or that they join their co-ethnics in so called ‘ethnic neighbourhoods’. However, today, migrants often move into places which have already been settled by previous migrants of various backgrounds. Such areas have also been described as ‘arrival areas’, situated in ‘arrival cities’. Although there is a wide-reaching policy and research agenda concerning migrant integration, little is known about the role of long-established migrants regarding newcomers’ settlement and how incoming migrants find support when they first arrive. This project asks what factors facilitate the settlement and social mobility of newcomers in arrival areas. It draws on the notion of arrival infrastructures, constituting concentrations of actors, institutions and organisations which facilitate arrival, and putting the spotlight on the special role played by long-established migrants.
Through a comparison of arrival areas in Dortmund, Brussels, and London, the project aims to contribute crucial new knowledge about current processes of migrant settlement. While it is often assumed that assistance for settlement comes through formal channels, agencies and programmes, this project highlights the important role of informal support structures, often provided by long-established migrants who have ‘arrival expertise’. The project draws on qualitative methods and long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the three arrival areas. It examines arrival infrastructures in a range of places, including public spaces (squares, transport hubs, markets, parks, etc.), local businesses (small enterprises, launderettes, Internet cafés, hairdressers, nail salons, newsagents, mobile phone shops, money transfer agencies, cafes, restaurants, etc.), civil society organisations (community organisations, religious sites, NGOs, language classes, food banks, sports clubs, etc.) and state funded institutions (e.g. libraries, health services, language classes, etc.).
The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/03/2131/08/23


  • migration, integration, inclusion, exclusion, arrival, infrastructures, cities