The formation or consolidation of ‘ethnic’ neighbourhoods in European cities has made ethnic/racial differences more visible in urban space and has brought back to the forefront of both academic and political debate questions about the spatial concentration of ‘strangers’ (segregation), citizenship rights and ‘integration’. The women and men who live in the city have, or may claim, a right to the city that includes on the one hand the right to appropriate urban space and on the other hand the right to participate in its production and in decisions about it but also in (re)defining patterns of living it. In this context, migrants reconfigure the meanings of belonging against dominant spatializations through their everyday practices. Moreover, more or less institutionalized forms of political participation create new spatial levels of citizenship not limited to the scale of the nation-state. Interactions among migrants and locals continuously redefine the subject of rights as they activate processes of access, participation and inclusion/exclusion in/from the urban public sphere. This paper discusses these processes and terms, drawing on examples from Berlin and Athens. We focus in particular on neighbouring as the space and resource of belonging and on how this is related to participation and urban citizenship. The two cities offer different contexts in which institutional policies, informal practices and claims for participation at the neighbourhood level define, in different ways, citizenship as a spatial strategy and help qualify the content of the ‘right to the city’.
For the full article go to EURS July 2012 issue