Philip Kasinitz and Sharon Zukin
Two research fellows at the CUNY Graduate Center, Sofya Apteker and Ania Cieslik, are conducting research as part of the Global Diversities, Migration, and New Diversities in Global Cities project. In this European Research Council-funded project, a team of social scientists, led by Steven Vertovec, investigates dynamics of diversification in three urban neighborhoods.
How can people live together, with ever more diverse characteristics, in the world’s rapidly expanding cities? Global migration flows show profound diversification of migrants’ nationality, ethnicity, language, gender balance, age, human capital, and legal status. Immigrants with complex ‘new diversity’ traits dwell in cities alongside people from previous, ‘old diversity’ waves. We know little about how people in diversifying urban setting create new patterns of coexistence, or how and why they might tend toward conflict.
The project’s core research question is: In public spaces compared across cities, what accounts for similarities and differences in social and spatial patterns that arise under conditions of diversification, when new diversity meets old diversity? The project entails comparative, inter-disciplinary, multi-method research in three contexts of super-diversity: New York (a classic city of immigration with new global migrant flows in a broadly supportive political context), Singapore (dominated by racial-cultural politics, and wholly dependent on new, highly restricted migrants), and Johannesburg (emerging from Apartheid with tensions around unregulated new, pan-African migrant flows). Spanning anthropology and human geography to research the changing nature of diversity and its socio-spatial patterns, strategic methods entail ‘conceiving’ (exploring how old and new diversities are locally understood), ‘observing’ (producing ethnographies of interaction) and ‘visualizing’ (using photographs, film and innovative data mapping).