Hans Dieter Laux and Gunther Thieme Curtis C. Roseman, eds. EthniCity: Geographic Perspectives on Ethnic Change in Modern Cities. Lanham, Md. and London: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996. xxviii + 309 pp.
Curtis C. Roseman, Hans Dieter Laux, Gunther Thieme, eds. EthniCity: Geographic Perspectives on Ethnic Change in Modern Cities. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1996. xxviii + 309 pp. $30.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8476-8033-7; $84.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8476-8032-0.
Reviewed by Jeanine Klaver (University of Amsterdam)
Published on H-Urban (March, 1998)
This book deals with the geographic processes of ethnic change in urban areas in various parts of the world and the socioeconomic and political issues which are related to the rapidly changing ethnic composition and increased ethnic diversity in these cities. The strength of the volume, i.e. demonstrating the large variety of forms that ethnic communities take in different locational and societal contexts, is perhaps also its weakness. While the individual cases are generally rich in data and provide interesting insights into local dynamics of ethnic change, it is hard to summarize or generalize the separate cases into a unifying perspective of processes behind ethnic change and diversity. Part of the difficulty in generalization (both for Boal in the final chapter of this volume and for the reviewer) is due to the large variations from place to place to which justice must be done. However, the difficulties of generalization also stem from the fact that the various authors in this volume have approached the theme of ethnicity and ethnic change in different ways. Some focussed on documenting levels of ethnic segregation and the changes therein (by using statistical measures such as dissimilarity indices), others were more concerned with the policy implications of certain ethnic residential patterns (relating them to issues of access to services and equity), yet others document how government policies have prevented (or stimulated) the emergence of ethnic spatial concentrations.
The volume was clearly not set up from its very beginning as a comparative study (it found its origin at a IGU conference) which has had consequences for the internal cohesion and analytical depth of the volume. This has resulted in an interesting presentation of individual case studies but a lack of clear common thread or overarching concern. Within these limitations, Boal makes an admirable attempt in the final chapter of the volume to transcend the level of the individual case studies. Despite the various approaches in the separate chapters, this study does raise various interesting issues which call for further discussion and research, such as the effects of globalization on the ethnic composition of cities, the role of governments in ethnic segregation, the positive and negative aspects of ethnic clustering and the importance of gender as an analytical category in migration studies.
The twelve case studies in this volume are largely grouped according to a classification of countries along immigration models. The first three chapters deal with ethnic diversity and change in traditional immigration countries, e.g. the United States and Australia (case studies about Los Angeles, Chicago, Melbourne, Sydney). Chapters four to eight hold case studies of countries with large immigrant populations from former colonies and/or countries who recruited immigrants under guestworker programs, e.g. France, England, The Netherlands, Germany, and Austria (case studies about Paris, London, Amsterdam, the Ruhr conurbation, Vienna). Chapters nine and ten deal with countries which only recently have become centers of immigration, e.g. Italy and Spain (case studies about Milan, Madrid). The last two case studies deal with ethnic change and diversity in South-Africa (Durban, Johannesburg) and Singapore. These two cases cannot be categorized according to these immigration models.
Over the last decades of this century processes of political and economic globalization have given rise to new migration flows which are responsible for the arrival of new immigrant groups both in the urban areas of old immigration countries as well as in countries which have recently become countries of immigration. The U.S. and Australia, for example, experienced a surge in immigrants from Asia. European countries have received refugees from a variety of Eastern European, African and Asian countries. These processes had profound effects on the ethnic make-up of many cities in these countries. While in many of the chapters in this volume ethnic change in urban areas can be related to processes of globalization of the political economy, this is not so in the two final chapters on South-Africa and Singapore. The ethnic make-up in these cities is not so much the result of globalizing forces initiating new migration flows but of internal political changes and choices affecting the existing ethnic composition of the cities.
The cases of South-Africa and Singapore are, nevertheless, interesting for other reasons. A recurrent theme throughout the volume is the role of government intervention in immigration and integration policies. As Boal remarks in the final chapter: "Governments play crucial roles in their attempt both to regulate immigrant flows and to set conditions for residence, be it permanent or temporary" (p. 285). Highly contrasting cases in this book are indeed Singapore, where government intervention has led to ethnic dispersal, while in South-Africa until recently government intervention has led to strict segregation. Another example of government intervention is to be found in the Netherlands. The low levels of ethnic segregation encountered in Amsterdam are attributed to the organization of the welfare state with "special arrangements in terms of income distribution, housing, social security, subsidies, and the battle against poverty" (p. 129). Boal in the final chapter, tries to link immigration models/policies to welfare policies and subsequently welfare policies to levels of ethnic segregation. While on the basis of the material presented conclusive evidence on these relationships cannot be given, it is a thought worth pursuing. The study in this volume on ethnic diversity and fragmentation in Vienna is interesting in this respect. Government intervention in this particular case consists largely of explicit denial of rights to immigrants. They have no access to council flats and other forms of subsidized housing. Many immigrants also suffer from a very insecure legal status as "most labor migrants have retained their foreign citizenship...they have no voting rights, they cannot be elected...they cannot become civil servants...and under certain circumstances, they can be expelled and sent back to their countries of origin" (p. 183). In a way, these immigrants are still considered by the government as temporary workers who do not have rights to government benefits. With respect to housing, this has put them into the hands of the private sector, which has led to a heavy spatial concentration (although nowhere close to the levels encountered in some American cities) often in run down, substandard apartments and neighborhoods. The link between immigration policies, welfare policies, and levels of segregation could be further explored.
Another interesting case with respect to the theme of government intervention is Hugo's case in chapter three on Melbourne and Sydney. In this chapter Hugo not only looks at the changes in residential patterns of ethnic groups in these two cities, but takes the analysis one step further by indicating the policy implications of these changing patterns, especially with respect to access and equity and locational disadvantage issues. He shows that the spatial dimension is very important in providing access to goods and services to immigrants, "(it) is a crucial dimension in achieving the objectives of the access and equity policy since it is the community level at which such policies actually work to influence the day-to-day lives of Australians" (p. 71). Another interesting point Hugo raises is about the positive or negative aspects of ethnic clustering, a theme that is briefly mentioned in one other contribution and could have been an issue for discussion in several others. Hugo is quite positive about the role of ethnic concentrations in adjustment and adaptation processes of newcomers and argues against dispersal policies through, for example, housing programs (as is occurring in France where ethnic groups are dispersed according to the "threshold of tolerance" measure). Howenstein in his contribution about ethnic change in Chicago (chapter 2) also briefly touches upon the effects of segregation even though from an alternative point of view. He states: "decreasing measures of segregation do not necessarily mean progress for an ethnic group, although that is a common interpretation" (p. 34). When he later concludes that Chicago has become more integrated spatially during the 1980s, it is a pity that he does not indicate what the socio-economic and political significance is of this increased integration for the various ethnic groups involved. In the Paris case (chapter 4) low levels of ethnic segregation are found. According to the authors Paris' heterogeneity is social, not ethnic. They state that no ethnic districts exist in Paris. However, one cannot help wondering whether this conclusion is the result of the definition that was used for ethnicity (i.e. nationality) which excludes second generation and naturalized immigrants. Moreover--even if the conclusion was justly drawn--these low levels of ethnic segregation do not necessarily imply socio-economic integration. Further study into the role of ethnic concentrations (or lack of them) in socio-economic integration should be conducted.
I particularly enjoyed Hillmann's contribution in this volume on immigrants in Milan. This chapter (chapter 9) addresses an important issue which is often overlooked when discussing international migration, i.e. the growing participation of women in the migration process, not as dependents of their immigrant husbands but as independent migrants who often take a leading role in the migration process. It is revealing that in this volume, in the case study about Madrid (chapter 10), the authors state: "most immigrant groups have more females than males in their adult populations" (p. 207). Yet, the remainder of the analysis on Madrid does not take that observation into account. Hillmann rightly stresses the importance of gender as an analytical category in migration studies. She illustrates how labor, housing and immigrant assistance structures are all gendered. Hillmann links her analysis of female migration to the role of household strategies in migration decisions. While the idea of migration which is undertaken as part of a household strategy is not new (since the early 1980s this has been an important focus in migration research), this framework is particularly relevant for the types of female migration Hillmann encounters in Milan. For these women the social and familial context is important for understanding their migratory movements.
The various themes which have surfaced from this book are in themselves interesting and merit further enquiry for a deepening of our understanding of the processes of ethnic change and segregation and integration in urban areas. I agree with Boal's conclusion that, "The contributions to this book offer a rich harvest both of similarity and of contrast in urban ethnic experience. Nonetheless, there is room for further comparative research on this topic" (p. 302). Research, I would add, which has to be comparative from its very beginning and not through generalizations made afterwards. In international comparative studies issues of data availability and comparability are some of the most important problems that need to be solved. The chapters in this volume give testimony to these difficulties. The variety of measures used for ethnicity, varying from language spoken, birthplace data and nationality, foreign stock, race and self-identification, speak for themselves. Even the comparability of statistical measures such as, for example, dissimilarity-indices have proven to be problematic as the value of these indices depends very much on the spatial scales which are being used. I feel that this volume would have gained in strength and depth if research foci had been better attuned before-hand. This still would have made an international comparison a difficult undertaking--due to the forementioned problems of data availability--but would have enabled us to analyze more systematically some of the important issues that were raised in this study, such as the role of government intervention and the positive or negative aspects of ethnic clustering.
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Jeanine Klaver. Review of Curtis C. Roseman, Hans Dieter Laux and Gunther Thieme, eds, EthniCity: Geographic Perspectives on Ethnic Change in Modern Cities and
Roseman, Curtis C.; Laux, Hans Dieter; Thieme, Gunther, eds., EthniCity: Geographic Perspectives on Ethnic Change in Modern Cities.
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