Giovanna Marconi (Università  Iuav di Venezia)


Course description
The proposed course intends to explore the multifaceted challenges international migration poses at the urban level, particularly in terms of governance and sustainability of increasingly diverse urban societies, within which the multiplication of norms and values associated with residents’ multiple cultural identities is deeply challenging traditional concepts such as community, belonging, urbanity.
As known, international migration constitutes nowadays an extremely relevant challenge in many contexts worldwide, where political action tends to conflate immigration and security: the ongoing Mediterranean refugee and migration crisis is undermining Europe’s unity by facilitating the rise of populist rhetoric and fostering widespread Euroscepticism while Trump's immigration and border security policies are already having important effects at the local level, besides the international one.
With a global migrant population of approximately 250 million people (WorldBank, 2015), international migration represents one of the most tangible examples of what is referred to as ‘glocalization’, namely, the consequences of globalization in local contexts. In an increasingly urbanized world, migrants head primarily to cities, either of the global North and South, rising new ‘demands for the city’ and fuelling urban social and spatial complexity. Though neither simple to grasp nor easy to manage, the growing ethnic mix and socio-cultural differences in today’s cities is a condition destined to rapidly evolve in the next few decades, due to the expanding number of migrants who is looking for a way out of the widening economic, social, and political disparities among countries worldwide or fleeing wars and conflicts as well as environmental degradation (i.e. droughts, desertification, sea level rise) resulting from climate change.
International population movements are bringing new territorial dimensions to the forefront as spaces of multiple belonging that trigger personal and collective connections - flexible, unstable and contractual - between the global and the local. In a global age in which relations occur within a time-space frame which has profoundly changed due to unprecedented advancements in ICT (Castells 1992), communities of belonging rooted in territorial proximity have considerably loosened. Unlike just few decades ago, today people arriving in cities from other countries are able to (and usually do) keep strong ties with their places and communities of origin, as well as their diaspora in other countries, actually carrying on social interactions in dual complementary relationship systems.
Physical proximity, habitual contact and neighbourliness no longer even seem to be necessary, much less sufficient conditions to activate virtuous mechanisms of encounter, interchange, and confrontation among the different individuals populating a city. Bridging different groups of urban residents with diverse cultural backgrounds is thus one of the major challenges contemporary cities, their societies and their governments have to face.
The following questions will be central to the proposed course:
− What impacts do migrants, asylum seekers and refugees have on the built environment, socio-cultural fabric and economic development of their host cities?
− What relationships to their host city do migrants develop? How do they identify with the host city and society? What are the local effects of the transnational networks they maintain with their place of origin or their relatives/friends migrated elsewhere (Diaspora), particularly in terms of multiple identities and struggle to belong to their new city?
− What factors prevent migrants from accessing housing and services or participating fully in the life of the city?
− Which policies and practices are put in place by local stakeholders to cope with growing social, cultural and ethnic diversity?
− Which services and spaces are/should be designed to promote migrants’ inclusion as well as intercultural relations among different groups of urban residents?

Learning outcomes of the course
Through an overview of relevant international literature and selected case studies examined through a comparative lens, as well as through interactive practical exercises specifically built for exploiting the international and multicultural classroom, the course will provide students with elements to better mainstream urban diversity and reflect upon the potential for urban stakeholders (i.e. planners, practitioners, policy makers, civil society at large) to create and maintain inclusive and sustainable urban environments. They will get familiar with urban policies and practices developed in different cities worldwide to promote respect of asylum seekers’ rights, peaceful cohabitation, equal ‘right to the city’ for all urban residents, social cohesion across differences and collective civic growth.
Students resulting particularly interested in further exploring the urban impacts of international migration in their cities, might be offered the opportunity to be tutored in their future research work (i.e. for a master or PhD thesis) by the research team of the SSIIM Unesco Chair on the Social and Spatial Inclusion of International Migrants – Urban Policies and practices” running since 2008 at Università Iuav di Venezia (

Teaching and evaluation methods
The course will be structured around the following 3 themes, each one of which will be divided into sub-topics:
Specific readings will be provided for each sub-topic.
Each session will consist of a presentation to introduce the sub-topic followed by a group discussion of the presentation and the reading(s).
During the semester, guest speakers will be invited to share their research and fieldwork with the class.
Theme 3) will particularly focus on European Approaches toward migrants’ integration, with an extensive insight on the Italian - and in particular the Venetian – case, including a study visit to the ‘Immigration and Citizenship Rights Promotion Service’ of the Municipality of Venice.
Starting from the second half of the semester, part of the sessions will be dedicated to the research work that students are expected to carry out. They will be trained to produce a research project and implement it. Students will be required to give a short presentation of their draft research for feedback and discussion and a final presentation at the end of the semester.

Research work
Students will work in teams of 2-3 (depending on the total number of students attending the course) and choose case studies from a list of suggestions to comparatively investigate the impacts of migration on urban areas and the policies and practices (or lack of) implemented to cope with it. Using existing literature, data, press reviews, maps and images to document and present their case studies, students will work to highlight the particular emergencies, contingencies, policies and/or practices that feed exclusionist drives or promote inclusion and equal right to the city. They will be also encouraged to develop their own policy proposals to promote more inclusive environments.

Milestones of student’s work will consist of:
a) Research Project: After having selected their case studies, students will prepare a research project explaining objectives, activities and expected results of their research.
b) Midterm Presentation: students will present advancements of their case study to the class in the form of a PPT presentation and be prepared to answer questions and receive feedback from their classmates.
c) Final report: Students will prepare and present a report on the case studies selected, including also ‘lessons learned’ and ‘policy guidelines’ aimed at promoting more inclusive environments in the context under study.

Students are expected to: engage the class agenda; consistently contribute to discussions; demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the readings; articulate their ideas; develop a coherent case study; demonstrate verbal and graphic communication skills and a willingness to explore their research independently.
Evaluation will be based on:
− participation in class discussion and level of interaction (15%),
− knowledge of the readings (10%)
− punctual delivery of assignments (10%)
− quality of the research project (20%)
− quality of mid-term presentation (15%)
− quality of final report and its presentation (30%)


Books (selected chapters):
Balbo M., Tuts R. (eds), 2005, International migrants and the city, Venice: Università Iuav di Venezia
Castells, S. and Miller, M.J., 2009, The Age of Migration, International Population Movements in the Modern World, fourth edition, New York: The Guilford Press
Fincher, R., & Iveson, K. (2008). Planning and diversity in the city: redistribution, recognition and encounter. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan
Marconi, G., Ostanel, E. (2015), The Intercultural City: migration, minorities and the management of diversity, London: IB-Tauris.
Sandercock L., 1998, Towards Cosmopolis. Planning for Multicultural Cities, Chichester: Wiley IOM Glossary on migration

Amin, A. (2002). ‘Ethnicity and the multicultural city: living with diversity’, Environment and Planning A, Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 959–980
Amin, A. (2008). 'Collective culture and urban public space', Cities, Vol.12, No.11, pp.5—24 Arango, J. (2002), ‘Explaining Migration: A Critical View’, International Social Science Journal, Vol. 52, No. 165, pages 283–296.
Balbo, M. (2009). 'Social and spatial inclusion of international migrants: local responses to a global process', SSIIM Unesco Chair Paper Series, No. 1, Venice: Università Iuav di Venezia
Balbo, M. & Marconi, G. (2005). 'International migration, diversity and urban governance in cities of the South', Habitat International, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 706–715.
Baubock, R. (2003), 'Reinventing Urban Citizenship', Citizenship Studies, 7(2): 139-60.
Bauman, Z. (2008), ‘Culture in a Globalised City’, Occupied London Vol.3, pp.22-27
Bell, D. Jayne, M. (2009), 'Small Cities? Towards a Research Agenda', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Vol.33, No.3, pp. 683-699
Brighenti, A. M. (2007), 'Visibility: A Category for the Social Sciences', Current Sociology, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 323-342
Cancellieri, A. (2016), 'Hotel House Condominium: Spatial Capital and Spatial (dis)empowerment in a Place of Migrants’
Fainstein, S. (2005), 'Cities and Diversity Should We Want It? Can We Plan For It?', Urban affairs review, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 3-19
Gagnon, J. et. al (2010), 'The Southward Shift in International Migration: Social Challenges and Policy Implications', Paris: OECD Development Centre
Marconi, G. (2010), ‘Not Just Passing Through: International Migrants in Cities of Transit Countries’, SSIIM Unesco Chair Paper Series, No. 6, Venice: Università Iuav di Venezia.
Ostanel E (2012), ‘Practice of Citizenship: Mozambican Immigration within the City of Johannesburg’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 33, p. 23-38
Ray, B. (2003), ‘The Role of Cities in Immigrant Integration’, Migration Information Source, Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute
Sandercock, L. (2000), ‘When Strangers Become Neighbours: Managing Cities of Difference’, Planning Theory and Practice 1: 13–30.
Sciortino, G., Colombo, A. (2004), 'The flows and the flood: the public discourse on immigration in Italy, 1969–2001', Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 94-113
Semi, G. et. al (2009), 'Practices of Difference: Analysing Multiculturalism in Everyday Life', in Wise A. and Velayutham S. (ed), 'Everyday Multiculturalism', London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.66-84
Van Kempen, T. (2007), ‘Divided cities in the 21st century: challenging the importance of globalisation’, Journal of Housing and Built Environment, v. 22, n. 1, p. 13-31
Vertovec S. (2011), 'Migration and New Diversities in Global Cities: Comparatively Conceiving, Observing and Visualizing Diversification in Urban Public Spaces', MMG Working Paper 11-08, Göttingen
Wimmer A., Glick Schiller, N. (2002). 'Methodological nationalism and beyond: nation-state building, migration and the social sciences', Global Network Vol.2, N. 4, pp. 301-334

Further readings might be provided throughout the course

No preliminary knowledge is required



Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272