Workshop Istanbul | Migration and Arrival in Turkey: Urban and spatial approaches

Migration and Arrival in Turkey: Urban and spatial approaches

30 September 2023

Istanbul, Turkey

Scholars studying the intersections of migration and the city have long been interested in the notion of urban arrival spaces, which essentially refer to urban localities that cater necessary information, and provide (affordable) accommodation, employment, and networks to newcomer migrants (Hanhörster and Wessendorf 2020; Hans and Hanhörster 2020; Schillebeeckx, Oosterlynck, and De Decker 2019). This interest goes back as far as the Chicago School on Urban Sociology (Park, Burgess and McKenzie 1925) which developed the idea of  “transition zones” as ports of first entry from where migrant newcomers transition to other neighborhoods. Doug Saunders’s now popular book Arrival City (2011) revived these debates on arrival conditions and integration processes of migrant newcomers. Today many arrival areas are characterized as socioeconomically disadvantaged urban neighborhoods with high concentrations of migrants and high rates of fluctuations. They function as hubs within cities where the aggregation of resources, services, and networks for new arrivals can be found. In the more recent decade, scholars have also started talking about the concept of arrival infrastructures, taking again a similar spatial approach while also emphasizing the role of different actors (e.g. long established local residents, brokers, civil society actors, public authorities) and institutions (e.g. small businesses, religious institutions, leisure organizations) in facilitating the urban incorporation of relatively newly arrived migrants (Hanhörster and Wessendorf 2020; Meeus, Arnaut, and van Heur 2019).  Overall, these approaches push scholars to explore the relationship between arrival spaces and broader national and/or urban integration frameworks from a more critical lens (ibid.).

Turkey presents an apt case for exploring these various dimensions, although there has been limited academic debate on this topic to date. Across Turkey’s different cities, there are urban areas that have served as arrival destinations for different and successive internal and international migration flows over several decades, some even with a history extending into the Ottoman period. The arrival of a high number of Syrian refugees over the last decade has also led to the emergence of entirely new arrival spaces in cities with little previous migration histories. With the dramatic changes in Turkey’s role as a migrant-receiving country, there are increasing efforts to govern the spatial distribution of migrant and refugee populations. A notable example is the dispersion policy that was introduced by the Presidency of Migration Management in Turkey starting in 2021, which today has halted the registration of foreign nationals in 1,169 neighborhoods across Turkey. This state-initiated intervention noticeably targets arrival areas, opening the question of how this policy is impacting the urban incorporation processes of newcomer migrants.

In this one-day workshop, we will discuss the emergence and transformation of arrival areas in Turkey and will explore the following questions:

  • How are old arrival areas in Turkey being transformed through recent migrations?
  • What new arrival areas (including non-urban areas such as small towns and rural areas) and infrastructures do we see emerging across Turkey?
  • How do different actors shape arrival?
  • How have recent changes (social, legal, technological) and crises (pandemics, wars, natural disasters such as earthquakes) shaped arrival in Turkey?
  • What are the methodological and ethical challenges, opportunities, and limitations in analyzing arrival from below and through an everyday lens?

Within this workshop, there is also a scope to move beyond these themes/questions, providing additional perspectives and critiques on the notion of ‘arrival’ in itself as a term within and outside the boundaries of urban spaces. We hope this workshop fosters open and diverse dialogue with scholars across disciplines, career levels, and localities. We aspire to move this dialogue beyond Western-centric conceptions of arrival and bring in empirically rich, theoretically substantial, and methodologically innovative research discussion.

This workshop is funded by EU Horizon 2020 project ReROOT: Arrival Infrastructures as Sites of Integration for the Newcomers ( and organized in collaboration with the Association for Migration Research (Göç Araştırmaları Derneği ).

The workshop will be held in a hybrid format. There will be simultaneous (English-Turkish) translation.

 Register here:

The Current Atmosphere of Migration in Hungary

The Current Atmosphere of Migration in Hungary

Márton Bisztrai | Menedék Association | 30 May 2023

Within the ReROOT project, our team at the Menedék Association focuses on the arrival infrastructure of third-country nationals in the Hungarian higher education system. These arrival infrastructures do not emerge in a vacuum but in a specific atmosphere of Hungary’s migration scene. This blog will present the different interests of two major political areas setting this scene, e.g. 1) the area of ‘migration’ power politics and 2) the area of migration realpolitik. 

It might be confusing that one will not find two opposing entities behind the duality of seemingly controversial areas. Instead, it is the same united political power, FIDESZ, the governing party.

The media and political decision-makers often interpret Hungary’s migration atmosphere incompletely. In most cases, the statements are driven by morality, political agendas, and ideologies. For instance, voices that criticise the Hungarian government often use expressions like “anti-migration regime,” “evilness,” “political schizophrenia,” or “cognitive dissonance” – just as if we were dealing with a “lunatic.” Pro-government supporters comment on the same acts with words such as “braveness,” “defence,” “patriotism,” and “nationalism.”

Nevertheless, from our perspective, there is no cognitive dissonance within this unity. Rather, we witness the – in terms of their interests – logical behavioural patterns of the government.

Area of power politics – thematisation of public opinion

This consists of the tireless and continuous one-way political campaign (since 2015) that is aimed at the public. It refuses and stigmatises “migration” and discusses it in a framework of fear, national sovereignty, and conflict (or even war) of civilisations. 

The propaganda tools and resources used by the government in the last eight years are countless. Here we show only two of these examples (one of the earliest and one of the latest) to illustrate the intensity and rhetoric of Orbán’s power politics.

In the spring of 2015, under the umbrella of National Consultation, the government sent a questionnaire to Hungarian households with the eloquent title Immigration and Terrorism. One example from the twelve questions: Did you know that subsistence immigrants cross the Hungarian borders illegally, and in the recent past, the number of immigrants in Hungary increased twentyfold? 

And the results were: 72,63% marked the answer Yes, 23,45% I have heard about it, and 3.91% marked I did not know.

In July 2022, at the youth-political-cultural summer fest in Tusványos (Romania), Orbán gave a one-hour speech to the public. He mentioned migration among the most pressing challenges that the country is currently facing. And he went further.

“The internationalist left has a trick: they claim that nations living in Europe are originally mixed race. This is a deception because it bonds different issues. Because there are places where the European nations are mixing with those who arrive from outside Europe. Well, this is the mixed-race world. And we are here where European nations are mixing with each other. This is why, for example, in the Carpathian Basin, we are not mixed-race, only a mix of nations living in their own European home. (…) We are willing to mix with each other, but we do not want to become a mixed race; this is why we stopped the Turkish in Wien, and if I am right, this is why the French back in the old times stopped the Arabs at Pointers.”

These question-shaped, contextless statements, Orbán’s speeches and all the other propagandistic elements applied by the government are logical and play well in the power politics, from at least two angles. First, a mass of citizens, supporters, and potential voters resonate with it. And second, it is suitable to overshadow pressing and uncomfortable political and socioeconomically questions. 

The message is that “migration is bad. Therefore, we must prevent and stop migration and not support or manage it.” This political discourse (in this case, the one-way delivery of messages) dominates Hungary’s public opinion. 

Power politics use “migrant” or “migration” arbitrarily. It links them with concepts of illegal border crossing, non-Christian, non-European, non-white intruders, potential criminals, and essential threats.

The strategy proved to be successful. In 2018 and 2022, FIDESZ won the parliamentary elections by an overwhelming margin. Using “migration” helps them to create an ongoing conflict (a ground where they communicate power and success) with the EU authorities, civil society, and other Hungarian political parties. They successfully keep alive the concept that Hungary is under constant attack, and only the current regime can repel it. Illusion, perception, reality, lie? Not relevant. The only relevance is its extreme success.

This strategy defined the last years with such power that government could not stay only in the fields of symbolic propaganda and noise-making. The messages appeared in the legislation as well, matching the atmosphere created by these symbolic messages. For example, in 2016 Orbán initiated a constitutional amendment. The draft included such lines as Alien nations cannot settle in Hungary. In the end, the proposal did not receive the needed parliamentary support. Therefore, in 2018 the “Stop Soros Amendments” took place, which have three major elements: “(a) The law on the social responsibility of organisations support illegal migration; (b) The law on the immigration funding levy; (c) The law on immigration detention.”

The same year the government blocked civil society organisations and other service providers access to the EU’s Asylum, Migration, and Integration Funds.

It is hence not surprising that the number of refugees has dramatically declined. Since 2000 the authorities have recognised the international protection need for approximately 10 000 people. According to the last (2022) statistics, 2 500 remained in Hungary. At the same time, however, the appearance of propaganda symbols in legislation did not curb the number of newly arriving foreigners. There are no less veiled Muslim women taking their children to the playgrounds in Budapest or no less Sub-Saharan African men walking in countryside towns. There are no fewer Iranian tenants in Budapest’s rental sector, and the Georgian, Vietnamese or Mongolian workers have not disappeared from the construction sites of the priority industrial investments—instead, the contrary.

The Central Statistical Office says that in 2015, 145 000 foreign citizens were living in Hungary, and by 2022 their number was 202 000. The increasing arrival of third-country nationals primarily causes the 40% growth.

The second competitor: the area of realpolitik – interests, needs, and solutions

The area of realpolitik concerns political actions, responses, and solutions that are based on economic needs, demographical trends, and diplomatic challenges. Whereas in the area of powerpolitics the government successfully uses (abuses) the word “migration” when engaging with its potential voters. In other segments, realpolitik uses, encourages, and organises migration to respond to demography-related economic challenges. First of all, Hungarian society is ageing. During the last forty years, the population decrease has been permanent. Secondly, according to the estimation of the Statistical Office, 350 000 Hungarian citizens left the country during the last ten years. The UN International Migration Stock estimates a higher ratio. And lastly, approximately 15 000 Hungarian youths are enrolled in foreign higher education. As a result, state investments, industry, service sector, agriculture, and food industries face labour shortages. Therefore, it is unsurprising that inbound labour migration has grown parallel to emigration. In 2015 the authorities registered 39 000 foreign workers. In 2022 under the same legal framework 74 000 people were registered. During the same period, the number of international students increased by 50%, from 20 000 to 32 000. Behind this significant growth is the state that stepped up as the primary recruiter. 

For example, in 2013 the Hungarian government announced a large-scale scholarship system called Stipendium Hungaricum that offers education programs in local universities to third-country nationals. Currently, 12 300 scholarship-holder students (primarily from the Middle East, North Africa, Post-Soviet countries, and South East Asia) study in universities in Budapest and rural towns.

Stipendium Hungaricum is neither initiated nor led by the universities or representatives of education politics. Instead, it is driven and implemented under the control of the Foreign Ministry and the umbrella of the “Opening to the East” policy in the form of bilateral interstate agreements.

Whereas power politics symbolically and physically blocked the asylum channel from Syrians, Yemenis, Iraqis, Kosovars, Pakistanis, Nigerians, Myanmarese, Iranians, etc, the student mobility channel has been opened to young citizens, often from the mentioned countries at the same time. 

Stipendium Hungaricum beneficiaries receive tuition-free education at undergraduate, master’s, and PhD levels. The language of study is English, and monthly financial support is also part of the package. 

Meanwhile, foreign relations within the EU are worsening, and diplomatic links are strengthening outside the EU. Although the quality of higher education (with few exceptions) is not in competition with Western institutions, the spread of English-based education resulted in organic development. It attracts more and more fee-paying international students. International students as a whole (Stipendium Hungaricum, Erasmus+, fee-paying) create financial profit for the national economy.

From the perspective of many applicants, the advantage of the Hungarian offer is the English curriculum, the stipend, and that “Hungary is Europe.” Although Hungary is an arrival country towards a Western European context, more students try to prolong their stay here by continuing studies at a higher level or searching for employment. This phenomenon may contradict the original concept of the scholarship. When launching the program, the Foreign Ministry made the objectives clear: students return to their home countries after graduation, help to develop bilateral diplomatic relations, engage in transnational economic or academic activities, and in general, spread the good image of Hungary. The long-term integration of foreign students was not on the agenda.

In conclusion, power politics dressed in an ideological costume and realpolitik compete. The slogans used in Orbán’s rhetoric – like “mixed race” and “If you come to Hungary, you cannot take the job of Hungarians” – echo in other fields of migration. At the same time, realpolitik is working behind the scenes and, for example, introducing changes in the immigration policy that make the students’ transition easier towards the labour market (however, still tricky).

The Hungarian government supports and organises the arrival of third-country nationals in some areas, for example, in higher education and the labour market. It is a benefit-oriented, highly controlled form of migration that keeps people in a state of temporality. Created by realpolitik, several entry points and migration channels led to Hungary. At the same time, an anti-integration ideology is in place (painfully visible in the public rhetoric). Both of these areas are blocking the settlement, permanence, integration, and “mixing”.


No Recourse to Public Funds – Finally a Voice?

No Recourse to Public Funds – Finally a Voice?

By Tamlyn Monson I Coventry University | 11 May 2023

Wednesday 26 April 2023 saw the launch of a guidance document on supporting Barking & Dagenham residents who are subject to the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition. The audience included representatives of the council and voluntary sector, and a number of residents with lived experience. I was among several members attending from a local network aimed at improving support for migrants in the borough, an initiative supported by BD_Collective – a network of networks that supports change in the borough. Also attending were members from various local community and support organisations, including Ultimate Counselling, The Source, Community Resources and Marks Gate Relief Project.

The NRPF condition is a restriction imposed by the Home Office on immigrants to the UK, which prevents them from accessing the ordinary safety net of state welfare support that citizens and formally ‘settled’ people can if they are faced with hardship or destitution. Being subject to the NRPF condition is particularly difficult for anyone who falls on hard times, becomes homeless, loses their job, or – in the case of an asylum seeker for instance – is not permitted to work due to Home Office Policy. Together with work restrictions imposed by the Home Office, the NRPF condition creates structural inequalities within the populations these organisations serve, inequalities that cannot be fully addressed at the local level, although their impacts are felt locally. So the NRPF condition also poses difficulties for council and voluntary sector services seeking an inclusive approach to supporting residents.

My year of ethnographic research in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in 2021-22 showed how the needs of such residents often remain under the radar. It also suggested that service providers are often unclear what support is legally permitted, and what is actually available locally, to people with no recourse to public funds. As the first step to fill this gap, this guidance is a cause for celebration. It was co-produced through a Place-Based Partnership of council and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) stakeholders, with Dagenham-based refugee-led organisation Ultimate Counselling leading an engagement with 157 residents subject to NRPF conditions and conducting a survey of 131 frontline staff.

When Ultimate Counselling director Sarah Kasule shared the key themes that emerged from focus groups with residents, I noticed strong overlaps with ReROOT* research findings on barriers and enablers for new arrivals in the borough. I highlight three of them below.

Residents’ Language Capacities

My research for ReROOT found that this is a borough where many residents struggle to speak, read or understand English, but signposting – both verbal and visual – is seldom multilingual. In addition to this, key helplines of the NHS and Citizens Advice Bureau do not feature the option of interpretation before launching into recorded English messages that must be navigated to access them. Hospitals issue jargon-laden letters in English to families who cannot understand their content. Landlords of dispersed asylum housing expect asylum seeker residents to simply sign tenancy agreements written in complex English regardless of their language proficiency.  Significantly, against this backdrop, Sarah Kasule announced that this guidance document will be made available in the main languages spoken by participants in the co-production.

Barriers of Knowledge and Digital Access

Lack of digital literacy and lack of local know-how were key blockages which came up over and over again in my research for ReROOT. Sarah Kasule highlighted similar barriers for many residents with the NRPF condition. She highlighted how lack of access to smart devices, data or digital literacy were key barriers to accessing statutory services, and pointed to residents’ lack of knowledge in terms of both what they were entitled to or how to navigate systems to solve housing problems for instance. This resonated strongly with findings from the ethnographic research, where I met people who were unaware that they could access free primary healthcare, or incorrectly believed they could not access the Citizens’ Advice Bureau because the organisation’s name suggested that the service was for ‘Citizens’ only.

The Role of Social Connections

Another finding from ReROOT research was that the right social connections can help offset the barriers of language, digital access and know-how, but that many marginalised newcomers did not have the social connections they needed to overcome these barriers. In a similar way, Sarah Kasule highlighted the theme of social isolation, noting for example that many participants in the focus groups did not have friends or family to help them when they arrived, and that asylum seekers arriving alone in dispersed accommodation were given no support to form connections in the local area . She illustrated the important role of social connections when she explained that knowledge gaps often persist because residents with no recourse to public funds are socially isolated, or because the people that they know are also unaware of their rights and entitlements.

The two hour event was eye-opening for some attendees because it included residents whose lives and challenges are usually out of sight. Single parents had to bring their children to the event, including a child with special educational needs, which brought some noise, challenging behaviour, and interruptions of mothers’ participation. The barrier to inclusion caused by lack of childcare support was tangible. A group of homeless non-English speaking men were present, and an interpreter communicated their desperate request for help with GP registration and more toilets in Barking. The latter request in particular seemed to cause confusion, perhaps because the majority of attendees have homes, and are less dependent on public water and sanitation infrastructure. It was clear that few attendees shared the experience of one man I spoke to during my research. He was sleeping under a bridge, in an area with no 24-hour toilet. At night, when the local shopping centre and library were closed, he would have had no choice but to suffer the indignity of urinating or defecating outside. Yet, rather than empathy, he received a notice that treated these indignities as a form of anti-social behaviour he was committing. He was forbidden to sleep there anymore.

Fortunately, the voices of participants were heard. Head of Universal Services, Zoinul Abidin, responded in closing that the council would consider the toilet question, and would also consider bringing GPs to community hubs to register new patients who were struggling to access them. Together with the commitment by the council’s Director of Community Participation and Engagement, Rhodri Rowlands, to keep the NRPF guidance document alive by revisiting it in 12 months time, it was reassuring to see this expression of Barking & Dagenham’s commitment to the council’s vision of ‘No one left behind: we all belong.’


In beslag genomen meubilair Fedasil gaat naar Brussels kraakpand om er “salon van schaamte” te maken

Read article here

Ongoing coverage of the symbolic action initiated by ReROOT researcher Shila Anaraki in solidarity with those neglected reception by the Belgian agency, Fedasil (Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers).

Een burgercollectief zal zaterdag een deel van het meubilair dat recentelijk in beslag genomen werd bij Fedasil, overmaken aan de asielzoekers die sinds een week een gebouw aan de Koning Albert II-laan in de buurt van het Brusselse Noordstation bezetten. Het gaat om een symbolische actie, zo kondigt het collectief ‘Stop de Opvangcrisis’ aan.

‘We are like children here’: The ‘crossroads’ of legal and moral aspects of indeterminacy

‘We are like children here’: The ‘crossroads’ of legal and moral aspects of indeterminacy


[1] The Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation (ESTIA), was initially implemented by UNHCR in collaboration with the local authorities and NGOs and funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). The project provides temporary accommodation for relocation candidate and vulnerable asylum seekers through rental apartments in various parts of Greece. The second phase of the program is being implemented by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum in an effort of centralization of the immigration policy.

[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

by Aimilia Voulvouli  | University of Thessaly

It is early in the morning in the inter-cultural centre Stavrodromi in Karditsa, Greece, and employees as well as beneficiaries, that is, international protection seekers are frustrated. Stavrodromi, which can be translated as “Crossroads”, is a pilot infrastructure created through the “Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation” – ESTIA[1] program. It is located in the heart of the city, at the Municipal Market which is a bazaar styled structure that hosts public and private businesses as well as a social grocery store, a bar, a small museum, the Red Cross branch of Karditsa, a radio station, a local newspaper, cultural associations and it is generally considered a meeting point by the locals.

Stavrodromi has been founded by the Development Agency of Karditsa (its Greek acronym reads as ANKA) and hosts all the social services of ESTIA. Eventually, it became a point of reference for the beneficiaries. There, they can get social services aimed at them or information on other services they need. It also runs a language school for Greek, Arabic and French. Computer spaces are also available for the beneficiaries to use, as well as a space for women and their children to spend their time creatively.

In May 2022 the last installment of the funding of 2021 has not yet been allocated to implementing bodies such as ANKA. Without these installments,  rent and utilities are going to be overdue for the rental apartments that are used by the ESTIA program. A few months ago, the cash assistance program which was initially implemented by UNHCR[2] was taken over by the Greek authorities which also resulted in delays in payment. For about six months now, both employees and beneficiaries find themselves in an indeterminate situation. Employees don’t know when they are going to get paid for the services they have signed a contract to provide,  and whether these contracts are going to be renewed. The beneficiaries don’t know when they are going to get their cash assistance or whether their shelters are going to be secure.

“We had to change apartment and live with two more families and now we are told that this might happen again due to financial difficulties. We are like children here who are told what to do. There is no stability”, said Tarik, one of the beneficiaries, during our interview earlier that week in May 2022. Similarly, John said during an informal discussion while he was visiting Stavrodromi to meet up with a potential employer: “My asylum interview is in May 2023, in the meantime I wake up in the morning and I don’t know what’s next. Am I going to have the same apartment? Am I going to be able to find a more steady job? I am now working here and there whenever there is a need for hands from the employers that ANKA is in liaison with. I feel like a child whose everyday life gets dictated by my parents and I have to improvise and be creative the whole time”. On the other end, Maria a psychologist working for ESTIA told me that she has already started looking for a new job because she understands that the stability that she had until now is not going to last long. In an informal discussion I had with the CEO of ANKA back in December, he told me that while they are legally not obliged to continue offering their services since they have not received the agreed amount, they feel morally obliged to do so, for the beneficiaries, the employees and the owners of the apartments they rent. “But for how long?” he said. I asked him how they are going to deal with the lack of funds in the meantime and he replied that he and his colleagues are trying to find ways which are not exactly official at the risk of having themselves held accountable by the home owners, the suppliers of food and other basic necessities and other  employees of ESTIA.

Heath Cabot (2013:453), writes that the indeterminate effects of “aid encounters in the context of asylum procedures may give rise to a circumscribed agency” that attempts to overcome structural hindrances and institutional gaps. Is it through this agency, within the ‘capitalist cracks’, of people acting ‘in-and-against the system’ that arrival situations are being created, transformed and appropriated in Karditsa? How can/should beneficiaries position themselves in such a process? Which are the legal indeterminacies and how creative can moral praxis become?

Our fieldwork thus, revolves around the formal but mainly the informal infrastructures that are created through crossroads and despite off the structural hindrances of ESTIA.




Sources cited:

Cabot, H. 2013 “The social aesthetics of eligibility: NGO aid and indeterminacy in the Greek asylum process”. American Ethnologist 40(3): 452-466.

Holloway, J. 2010 Crack Capitalism. London: Pluto Press

Suggested reading:

Marry-Anne, Karlsen, M. Jacobsen Christine, and Khosravi Shahram. 2020. Waiting and the Temporalities of Irregular Migration: Taylor and Francis.  With a chapter on Greece by Katerina Rozakou.




Construction site for the maintenance of the walls and creation of green space, funding EU. Source: the authors.

Label against the demolition of wall houses. Source: the authors (1999)

Graffiti in Ano Poli. Source: the author 2021

Wall houses in Ano Poli. Source: the authors.

by Charalampos Tsavdaroglou & by Zachos Valiantzas

October has just arrived and we have arranged a visit to a housing squat in Thessaloniki’s Ano Poli (upper town). A conversation with the dwellers of the squat will help us build trust and make contacts with more newcomers to the city. Our minds are filled with questions. Which are the material, social and political aspects of Arrival Infrastructures (A.I.)? What is the relationship between A.I., local and global history and the migrants’ everyday life? Our meeting is at 13:00 with a friend from Maghreb. We get in the car and park on Eptapyrgiou Street in a green space – under construction – next to the city walls.

These walls are the fortification which used to divide the palace area (Genti Koule) from the rest of the city. Almost 12 metres high now, the walls were initially built as a defensive infrastructure during the Roman and Byzantium era (4 th century) and various repairs and exapansions happened in the following years of the Ottoman Empire. The area around the walls was mainly inhabited by Muslim citizens until Thessaloniki city was occupied by the Greek army in 1912. After the Greek-Turkish war and more specifically as a result of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, 670,000 Greek citizens of Muslim religion moved from Greece to Turkey while 1,6 million Ottoman citizens of Christian religion moved from Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace the other way around to Greece. About 200,000 Christians settled in Thessaloniki and several of them in the so-called ‘interchangeable buildings’, the residences built by Muslims who relocated to Turkey. Therefore, the area of Ano Poli was the place of arrival for the newcomers from Turkey, whose presence in turn attracted more refugees, relatives and friends of them, to settle or build makeshift accommodation – shacks – on the unstructured plots of the area around the walls.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of this new type of dwelling are the so-called “castroplikta” houses – wall houses, i.e small houses that are adjacent to or include parts of the Byzantine walls. However, only a small number of these “castroplikta” still stand today. In 1997, Thessaloniki was named the European Capital of Culture, which motivated a plan to demolish about 900 abandoned and inhabited wall houses in order to create a green zone  along the walls. The demolition program envisages the preservation of only 16 buildings, not as residential areas but as cultural and historical monuments of the refugees. We have witnessed local resistance to this demolition plan appearing in the public spaces of Ano Poli since our first visits in the fall of 1999. On one of our first visits to Ano Poli, this resistance took the form of a sign posted on a centrally located building next to the central Portara (a large door in the Byzantine walls) This sign used the same aesthetics, font and logo of the European Capital of Culture in order to attract the eyes of tourists. However, on second glance it turned the logo from a boat to a bulldozer and the message written in 6 languages stated “CULTURAL CAPITAL FUNDING IS TO BE USED TO DESTROY THIS HISTORICAL PART OF THE CITY”. Today, unfortunately, the sign is gone. While the demolition was considerably delayed, it eventually started to be implemented after 2010.

Having parked the car in this particular area of the demolished “castroplikta” houses, we head down to Osios David old church, where we arranged to meet our friend from Maghreb. During our way through the tiny cobblestone paths of Ano Poli, we see a slogan written on a wall: “immigrants welcome, tourists go home”. While we are looking at the slogan, some actual tourists pass by.

The slogan indicates the ongoing controversy over the right to Ano Poli. Similar slogans appear in the streets of the neighbourhood and call for an awareness about two interrelated issues: the increasing touristification and Airbnb-fication of the neighborhood on the one hand and the question of migrants’ and refugees’ housing on the other. There are dozens of similar slogans all over the neighborhood (in English and sometimes in Arabic) and, according to our discussion with local residents, the writers are often local residents – anarchists, leftists and migrants. Since 2016, after the closure of the Balkan Corridor, Ano Poli area has hosted several migrant newcomers, either as guests in solidarity residences, in apartments provided under UNHCR housing programs, or by occupying abandoned buildings such as the “castroplikta houses”. At the same time quite intense gentrification processes are taking place in the area. Searching the airdna database of Airbnb platform we found about 250 available apartments and rooms in Ano Poli. Small hostels have also begun to appear.

 1 According to our observations, in the area of Ano Poli there are several squats, housing projects and social centers. Our perception is that the slogans’ campaign (immigrants welcome/tourists go home) enriches and extends the discussion of similar campaigns across Europe beyond anti-airbnb sentiments and the touristification of cities or of specific neighborhoods. Indeed, the campaign in Ano Poli is not just a complaint against touristification but it proposes that the neighbourhood could be a welcoming place for – refugees and migrants – whose predecessors did built the area decades ago.

We meet our friend and he leads us to his housing squat. We realize that his house is one of the remaining “castroplikta” (wall houses) that is adjacent to the walls towards the side of Genti Koule.

There are two beds in the house and no electricity. Church candles are used for lighting, gas stoves for heating, and the interior is decorated with many teddy bears. Our friend welcomes us with a smile and a hug. We climb a makeshift staircase up to a small terrace where a sheet offers shading and a freshly-washed carpet has just been spread to dry. Our friend pours us vanilla-flavored tea with caramel and our conversation begins.

During our conversation we reflect upon the function of walls and how they typically signify a defence infrastructure in Europe, the US and other countries to prevent the entry of immigrants. We talk about fortress-Europe raising fences. Here, however, these old walls may allow us to think differently. Here, these walls reverse the above function and importance. Indeed, thinking with Stavros Stavrides’ ideas about common space as threshold space, these walls have become in some way threshold infrastructure: a shelter but also an entrance to the city for those who do not have papers.

As we continue our research in Ano Poli, together with residents, we will further explore this notion of threshold infrastructure and how it connects practices and narratives on urban commoning with the arrival infrastructures framework. 1 Airdna “tracks the performance data of 10M Airbnb & Vrbo vacation rentals. It offers short-term rental data analysis on Airbnb occupancy rates, pricing and investment research, and more” (

1 Airdna “tracks the performance data of 10M Airbnb & Vrbo vacation rentals. It offers short-term rental data analysis on Airbnb occupancy rates, pricing and investment research, and more” (




by Malmö University & by KU Leuven

The purpose of WP 3 is to upscale and re-embed the results from WP 2 for further use in later stages of the pro-ject. The WP 2 results will describe the very context-specific intricacies of arrival infrastructures (T 2.2) – their historical transformation, their present-day makings, and their transformation in the turbulent years of immi-gration into Europe after 2015. By upscaling we mean situating these results in broader ‘contexts’ related to forms of regulation and control informed by e.g. local and national policies and practices on migration and inte-gration. These we call regimes of diversity and mobility (Glick Schiller and Salazar 2013, Grillo 2010), as they re-present models of coping with diversity related to mobility and migration, e.g. defining who is included in or ex-cluded from the nation state. Furthermore, regimes of diversity and mobility inform ideologies of integration (Favell 2016, Olwig & Paerregaard 2011, Rytter 2018) in defining who is ‘integratable’ and how. These regimes consist of a reflexive process of external ascription – attribution of legal status, racial or ethnic profile, cultural or religious identity, etc – and self-identifications – the double process of subjectification (Fassin (2011) that affects migrants´ social mobility and aspirations in important ways. The regimes lead local lives and co-constitute the site-specific arrival infrastructures.

The upscaling effected by WP3 has first of all a methodological function of training (T3.1) the site researchers. After the researchers have familiarized themselves with the different sites, they will be trained to identify and describe the local ‘regimes of diversity and mobility’ and ‘ideologies of integration’ at work in their specific sites. This task supports the researchers of WP2 first of all to add this dimension to their analysis of, and in-sights into, the workings of the site specific arrival infrastructures, and secondly to report their findings back to the WP 3 researcher. These reports form the basis of the second form of upscaling. The local site-specific re-gimes and ideologies also lead translocal lives far beyond their confines: in national and regional (EU/European/Western) and global ideoscapes and governmentalities. The objectives of developing this training material can thus, quoting the description of action, summarized as:

1. Providing site researchers the necessary theoretical research support on integration and regimes of diversity and mobility.

2. Enabling T3.2 by tailoring the input from WP2 to the needs of the WP3 researcher in order to be able to start the cross-site comparative and comprehensive research on AI in relation to local and translocal regimes of diversity & mobility.