Linking Urban Public Space and Migrant Integration in China: Memories, Nostalgia, and Belonging

Chen Qu , University of Cambridge

Chinese post-migratory urban lives seem to be discussed merely from a sociological perspective in most current studies (Yue et al., 2013) with the dynamics of urban public space seldom considered. My research explores the role of public space in the integration process by both expanding the concept of integration and examining migrant uses and senses of place, based on fieldwork in a Chinese megacity. In the field site, both phenomenological and ethnographical approaches, i.e. in-depth interviews and participant observation were combined for data gathering, with the data then analysised thematically. The evidence suggests that urban public space can promote integration in various ways, and this presentation focuses on how memories and nostalgia, evoked during visits to public spaces, encourage migrants to cultivate a sense of belonging (Qian et al., 2011) to such space and/or the city, through fostering a sense of familiarity and positive emotions. Nostalgia for rural hometowns with strong emotional ties, however, can conversely hinder migrants building an ‘insider’ social identity and a sense of belonging to the host city. While the influence of nostalgia on belonging is arguably complex, urban design recommendations oriented to nostalgia and elements that can boost positive feelings to support migrant integration are discussed at the end of the presentation.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy