Complex belongings: racialization and migration in a small English city

Erel, Umut (2011). Complex belongings: racialization and migration in a small English city. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(12) pp. 2048–2068.




The article explores how long-term residents in a small city with rural links in the East of England related to new migrants at a time of changing patterns and increased volume of migration. Based on in-depth interviews and observations in 2005–6, the article shows dynamic, complex, and nuanced constructions of belonging and governmentalities of belonging. Long-term Peterborians felt proud that their city attracted migrants and became more multicultural. Many saw this as a normative aspect of being modern. Yet, the arrival of migrants also led to tensions and re-inscribed the racialization of Peterborough's ethnic minorities, articulated through the theme of neighbourliness. Through the figures of ‘uncaring migrant neighbours’ and ‘ruthless Pakistani landlords’, migrants and ethnic minority Peterborians were portrayed as refusing injunctions to care for the neighbourhood and the nation. Ethnic minority Peterborians were positioned ambivalently as hosts of and – at times – targets of racism by new migrants.

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