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HP14 - Exploring the rhythms of urbanisation and conflict

Convened by Tom Goodfellow (University of Sheffield, UK), Shuaib Lwasa (International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and Taibat Lawanson (University of Lagos, Nigeria)

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In the context of rapid urban growth, large-scale migration into cities can disrupt existing rhythms of urban life while also triggering new ones. This is often associated with increased tension and social conflict, but can equally work to produce peaceful coexistence. Given the scale of urbanisation across much of the global South, and escalating levels of conflict in many urbanising societies, understanding how the rhythms of urban life are disrupted and remade through migration is increasingly urgent.

The relationship between rural-urban migration and conflict has started to be explored through quantitative cross-national studies. We still know little, however about how relationships between migrants and pre-existing city-dwellers feed into dynamics of violent conflict and peacebuilding. Overstretched municipal authorities, unable to keep up with the pace of urban growth, can result in massive failures in infrastructure and service provision, proper tenure documentation, and regulated settlement patterns. These phenomena are well known, but can intersect in unpredictable ways with differential forms of exclusion and inclusion when new migrant groups (either international or from elsewhere in a national territory) settle in already dense and complex urban areas. Urban in-migration is all too often associated with 'crisis narratives' and disorder, particularly in contexts such as Africa and Asia. Yet the new rhythms of social interaction that emerge as migrants and settled populations interact are often poorly understood – and in many cities the migrant/non-migrant distinction is more complex than meets the eye.

This panel explores the relationship between migration, urbanisation and conflict/peacebuilding, through papers that draw out empirical findings or conceptual reflections on these relationships anywhere in the world. We solicit papers that explore any aspect of the process of urban ‘arrival’ and its intersection with conflict and efforts to overcome it, in order to build a deeper understanding of the inescapable dynamics of global urbanisation. 

This panel is organised by the EADI Working Group on Urban Governance