Arrival City

2021 Type: Glossary

Migration has always shaped Berlin’s urban society. The challenge for cities like Berlin, according to journalist and migration expert Doug Saunders in his book Arrival City, is to understand and embrace its role in the global networks of migration. As Saunders sees it, Berlin is going through a development similar to Istanbul, Delhi, or Beijing: These cities were and still are growing into “arrival cities,” where migrants and refugees try to find their place. Into cities that have the ability to facilitate or impede that search. The context of migration, asylum, and exile—and of the question of how Berlin can become not just a city of arrival, but also a city of dwelling in a positive sense—is therefore central to Urban Practice.
In concrete terms, such a practice involves, for example, the formation of hubs for art, culture, and encounter, where communities with a focus on diversity, multilingualism, and artistic self-representation can establish themselves. In the spirit of “arrival,” these open places of encounter also enable public space to be “reclaimed” for a diverse urban society. Such networking, which is accessible, cross-divisional, and critical towards power, can be understood as a central component of an Urban Practice that promotes the city of arrival, a “city for all.” A project such as Berlin Mondiale, for example, sees itself as a network consisting primarily of artists and practitioners with biographies of displacement along with dedicated stakeholders from various Berlin cultural institutions. 
Using such artistic networks, Urban Practice seeks to enter social spaces that are rather weakly positioned culturally and socially, and, together with local actors from the neighborhoods, to open up spaces for practitioners and structurally and institutionally disadvantaged communities/groups.

Dr Sabine Kroner is a political scientist and earned her doctorate in migration research. Since 2015 she has been the project manager of Berlin Mondiale—a Berlin-wide network of cultural practitioners and artists of Urban Practice who work in the context of migration, asylum, and exile.