Entanglements of race and migration in the open city: grounding the sociological imagination

Keith, Michael; Murji, Karim; Pile, Steve; Solomos, John; Wang, Ying; Yazici, Eda and Cramer-Greenbaum, Susannah (2023). Entanglements of race and migration in the open city: grounding the sociological imagination. The Sociological Review (In Press).

Abstract

In this article we reflect on how such tensions between analytical and normative entanglements of the city shape the sociological imagination, considering what this might mean when we try to describe and explain what is happening in neighbourhoods like Grenfell through a vocabulary that draws variably on lexicons of race, ethnicity and migration. We consider what it might mean to think about the claims that are made in the valorised name of the ‘open city’ of London that has become central to the city’s self-image, the urbanism of writers such as Richard Sennett and that The Guardian and others celebrated after Grenfell. We argue that just as iconography can both suppress and reveal particular narratives of the urban, the open city has the propensity to mask or confuse the dimensions of guilt, causality and symbolism; specifically to speak in tongues that are problematically both normative and analytical simultaneously. Surfacing cautionary traces of environmental determinism, we consider how forms of complex emergence entangle the material and the social, qualifying how we might judge evidence in claims that judge urbanisms shaped by race and migration.

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