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Migration and the organization of space (or the effects of migration on space ...)


The aim of the vignette is to consider the effects of migration on the host countries, and more specifically on the organisation of space. The consequences of migratory flows are generally approached from two main angles: firstly, the problem posed by the brain drain and the importance of remittances for the countries of departure; secondly, the contribution that these flows make to host countries whose birth rate is often declining and whose labour market is proving more or less capable of offering jobs.

On the other hand, it is more rarely mentioned, particularly in school curricula and textbooks, the impact that these migrations have on urban areas, especially in terms of the concentration of migrant populations or populations of immigrant origin in certain neighbourhoods. Chinatown a in New York is a typical example of the urban reconfigurations resulting from immigration. It is reminiscent of the classic image of the so-called Chinese neighbourhoods found in the world’s metropoles and which are the work of the Chinese diaspora.


The Chinatowns of large metropoles are characterized by pictograms on shop fronts, pagoda roofs, restaurants but also more specifically by the production and consumption networks structured by the Chinese diaspora. Photography illustrates the diversity of activities (lawyer, restaurant, hairdresser, beauty salons…) and the dynamism of the district. The image allows us to return first of all to the very diversity of Chinatown, which is far from being inhabited exclusively by Chinese people. Indeed, these immigration neighbourhoods welcome populations of Asian origin in their majority, but from different countries. They are often associated with “gateways”, with airlocks that can be a stage in the journey of newly arrived migrants, but they must also be seen from a sedentary perspective.These neighbourhoods constitute a discontinuity in the urban fabric through its singular sociological composition, its landscape. Enhanced by the large cities that host them, they are now tourist destinations and proudly claim an identity, particularly through the organization of festivals.

The development of these Chinatowns has an impact on the organization of urban space. However, some immigrant neighbourhoods, such as Chinatown in Athens, contribute to the revitalization of areas in difficulty, even encouraging Athenian populations to return to settle there, and promote the process of gentrification. Finally, these neighbourhoods are more than just living and working spaces.

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