About the ReROOT Project
ReROOT | Arrival Infrastructures as Sites of Integration for Recent Newcomers
ReROOT is a Horizon2020 research project consisting of six universities, two research institutes, and two NGOS running from 2021-2025. The project uses ethnographic methods to study the challenges and opportunities migrants encounter on arrival in specific arrival situations in eight countries (Belgium, Turkey, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Greece, and UK). ReROOT focuses on ‘arrival infrastructure’ - how newcomers source shelter, support and resources upon arrival in a place. From informal social connections to formal support organisations; from public spaces to libraries, shops or health centres, ‘arrival infrastructure’ shapes migrants’ pathways after arrival and affects how quickly and successfully they can achieve their goals, whether to settle or move on.
PHASE 1: exploring & experimenting

In nine pilot sites we explore:

1) What are arrival infrastructures and how do they work?

2) Which concepts and methodologies are useful for the exploration of arrival infrastructure?

3) How can relevant actors be brought together to intervene in arrival-related challenges?

  • Training 1: Concepts and methods for arrival infrastructure site research
  • Training 2: Analysis of regimes of integration, diversity and mobility
  • Training 3: Action Research in arrival infrastructure
  • Fieldwork takes place (2021-2022).
PHASE 2: desiging, testing, training, and sharing

1) Designing methods for intervention in arrival contexts based on phase 1 research

2) Workshopping and refining these methods with field actors to develop a toolkit

3) Sharing toolkit with relevant actors (civil society organisations,

social professionals, policy makers)

  • Testing ReROOT Toolkit with Civil Society Partners
  • Incorporating feedback into ReROOT Toolkit
  • Training designed and delivered with the final ReROOT Toolkit to Civil Society Partners
  • Policy Workshops in France, Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands
  • Final Policy Briefs delivered
  • ReROOT MOOCs shared with policy makers and arrival infrastructure actors
Key Terms
Arrival Infrastructure
ReROOT has the huge ambition to revolutionize the way we think about migration, and above all, the way we, as migration societies, ‘do’ migration. Two operations are central to the critical shift which ReROOT seeks to accomplish: (1) our entry point into migration is arrival while (2) it conceives of ‘doing’ arrival as ‘infrastructuring’. This novel take on migration has profound effects on the way we approach integration and position newcomers.

What are arrival infrastructures? “those parts of the urban fabric within which newcomers become entangled on arrival, and where their future local or translocal social mobilities are produced” (Meeus et al. 2019:1). They are "the place-specific socio-material constellations that mediate the migration arrival process." (Loomans, Lennartz, & Manting, 2023).

First, by focusing on processes of arrival, we want to direct attention to how and where people find some stability in order to move on.

Second, an infrastructural perspective on processes of arrival allows for a critical as well as transformative engagement with the position of the state in the management of migration. States have continuously produced new layers of supportive and exclusionary governmental infrastructures, funneling particular groups into “permanent arrival” and others into “permanent temporariness.” At the same time, migrants and various other actors incrementally build up sites or vantage points of temporary deployment with whatever is at hand, including parts of these governmental infrastructures.

The notion of arrival infrastructures hence emphasizes the continuous and manifold “infrastructuring practices” by a range of actors in urban settings, which create a multitude of “platforms of arrival and take-off” within, against, and beyond the infrastructures of the state.

Surprisingly perhaps, we see ‘arrival’ less as an endpoint than a point of departure. Arrival in ReROOT’s understanding is a condition of (always temporary but possibly quite long-term) settling/inhabitation that allows one to prepare for the future while reassembling the past. ‘Present’, ‘past’, and ‘future’ refer to times as much as to spaces and social circles where these ‘times’ take place. Arrival is thus a time-space patchwork of relatively stable surroundings enabling as well as limiting and orienting people to (re)connect and re-source, or what we could refer to as ‘reroot’. This ‘rerooting’ should not only be understood as taking place within a (pre- existing) situation but also as building or transforming these surroundings in a process of collaboration and interaction with a wide range of actors.

Infrastructure 3.0
We call the interactive process of migrants’ building and transforming their arrival situation, is what we call infrastructuring. That is a broad term which transcends ‒ in a double move ‒ what is habitually designated as ‘infrastructures’ (‘1.0’): roads, trains and other mobility provisions or water, gas, electricity and other resource distribution systems.

  1. ReROOT’s vision of infrastructure covers what is often called ‘social infrastructures’ (‘2.0’): education and health institutions, employment agencies and a wide range of social services. All these may either be meant specifically for newcomers ‒ think, for instance, of language or ‘integration’ courses ‒ or address the population at large ‒ public transport, health provisions, public administration, etc ‒ to which migrants, depending on their legal and residential status, have some degree of access.
  2. ReROOT ventures beyond the rather formalised, institutionalised hence standardized ‘social infrastructures’, and engages a range of more informal, often not very publicly visible, perhaps more ‘autonomous’ yet (trans)locally regulated (‘normed’) practices. Infrastructuring 3.0 takes place in ‒ as well as co-shapes but at the same time answers to the norms prevailing in ‒ families and diasporic networks of kin and acquaintances, settings of work, trade and consumption, religious and cultural associations, grass-roots activism, leisure, etc. Navigating these ‘surrounds’, migrants realise their social existence and aspired mobility. More than just presences, the sharing and caring, exchange and communication that constitute ‘infrastructuring’ contain vectors of change: they orient people’s future lives.
  3. As can be guessed from the above characterisation, the choice of ‘infrastructure’ and ‘infrastructuring’ is motivated by the fact that it enables us to grasp the richness and complexity of the newcomer’s worldbuilding practices and environments. Moreover, infrastructure/ing galvanises two more general critical characteristics: (a) its socio-material nature and (b) its relative stability.

The Socio-Material Nature of Infrastructure
In spite of its clear material overtones, infrastructuring involves seemingly ‘non-material’ things such as a wealth of legal arrangements (ranging from human rights to residence and labour regulation laws) which are informed by (dominant but often implicit) discourses of diversity, inequality and racialisation. These discourses operate in everyday speech as much as in media use; they distinguish allochthones from autochthones, or deserving from undeserving migrants, ventilate stereotypes of national characteristics or racialisations of cultural or religious identities, etc. By incorporating all these ‘representations’ into infrastructure, ReROOT insists on the fact that these ideas also always exist in some material or social form or other: in objects and built environment, practices of violent policing as well as everyday caring and the albeit elusive messaging in social media. One of the more recent instances is the different ways in which the arrival of Ukrainian refugees and refugees from East Africa and the Middle East has been ‘infrastructured’. A plethora of analysts looking into that contrast have demonstrated the articulation of differential ‘representations’ and legal arrangements in very concrete reception centre initiatives, emergency education programmes, health care practices, etc.

Understanding How Stability is Infrastructured
More than the seemingly stable, entrenched, if not fossilised terminology of ‘infrastructure’, ReROOT’s use of ‘infrastructuring’ in its more active mode, above all tries to grasp the relative stability both in time (temporary) and in space (dynamic) of the migrant’s worldbuilding. Concomitantly, infrastructuring tries to grasp the bottom-up dynamic of continuous moulding and constraint with the top-down movement of ‘sedimentation’. Sedimentation refers to processes of gradual routinisation over time, through repeated action and constructing, repairing and reworking of built environment. Because of their ongoing stabilisation, these sedimentations constrain and control but also channel and orient practices and representations taking place within the arrival infrastructure.
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