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Refugee urbanism: seeing asylum ‘like a city’

Darling, J.

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This paper explores how asylum might be understood from an urban perspective. The paper focuses on a range of conceptual interventions mobilized around the notion of ‘seeing like a city’, which foreground the pragmatic and compositional nature of urban politics. These debates are placed in conversation with discussions over the changing nature of relations of power, to examine the dispersal of asylum seekers in the UK, arguing that current research on dispersal has tended to focus too exclusively on the regulatory and sovereign aspects of this policy. In doing so, such research has overlooked the urban manifestation of dispersal as a process that has created new knowledges and forms of expertise, whilst being sustained through spatially complex relations of present authority and distant accountability. In exploring these relations, the paper argues that a focus on ‘refugee urbanism’ may open productive new avenues for critically exploring urban asylum.


Darling, J. (2021). Refugee urbanism: seeing asylum ‘like a city’. Urban Geography, 42(7), 894-914.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Oct 13, 2020
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Feb 3, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 22, 2020
Journal Urban Geography
Print ISSN 0272-3638
Electronic ISSN 1938-2847
Publisher Bellweather Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 42
Issue 7
Pages 894-914


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (1.7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.<br /> This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (<br /> licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly<br /> cited.

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