Stories from a migrant city

Living and working together in the shadow of Brexit

Stories from a migrant city argues that a rethink of how the terms ‘immigration’, ‘migration’, ‘immigrant’ and ‘migrant’ are imagined and conceptualised is long overdue. It shows how moving away from a racialised local/migrant dichotomy can help to unite people on the basis of common humanity. The book also takes to task the idea that cosmopolitanism is necessarily an elite worldview: on the contrary, not only are axes of racialised difference often reinforced by the actions of economic and political elites, but, in certain spaces and at particular times, non-elite people of all backgrounds show themselves to be at ease with such difference, albeit that this is interwoven with ongoing racisms and the legacies of colonialism. Using a biographical approach and drawing on over one hundred stories and eight years of research by the author in the English city of Peterborough, Stories from a migrant city addresses the question of what Peterborough (and indeed England) stands for in the Brexit era, and to whom it belongs. Taken as a whole, the book’s tales from the city’s homes and streets, its 1970s and 1980s satellite New Towns, its older central neighbourhoods and its warehouse and food factory workplaces, together with its engagement with the cultural productions of residents, challenge middle-class condescension towards working-class cultures. They also reveal how the often-ignored stories from this and other provincial cities can be seen as gifts to richer, metropolitan places.

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