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An urban laboratory for the multicultural nation?

Wilson, Helen F.



At a time when urban space is considered central to understanding how multicultural societies cohere, this paper examines how the urban and the nation are related. To do so, the paper focuses upon Birmingham, UK, which has been presented as a testing ground for national responses to difference and as a model for other European cities. Drawing on narratives of city boosterism, urban policy, local and national news articles, academic writing and resident accounts, the paper deals with three inter-related concerns. First, with discussions on how the city responds and adapts to national framings of diversity and its socio-political conditions of possibility, second, with claims that the city might be understood as epitomising the state of the nation and third, with questions concerning how Birmingham might actively work to shape, challenge or re-write understandings of the nation. Drawing on recent work urban experimentation, the paper asks what Birmingham's position as a laboratory for new social imaginaries and ways of belonging might mean, both for the city and its residents, and for national policy on cultural diversity.


Wilson, H. F. (2015). An urban laboratory for the multicultural nation?. Ethnicities, 15(4), 586-604.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 27, 2015
Publication Date 2015-08
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2017
Journal Ethnicities
Print ISSN 1468-7968
Electronic ISSN 1741-2706
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 4
Pages 586-604

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