Abstract: Digitalization, the increasing role of internet-based technologies in daily life, is changing how we socialize, work, and engage politically. This is especially true in cities of arrival: technological change affects the ways that urban migrants integrate into metropolises in middle-income countries, creating a space to debate whether these technological changes mean we need to reevaluate 20th Century models of rural-to-urban migration. Drawing on modern case studies, historical analysis, and urban theory, this presentation will propose four potential scenarios that describe how cities will be shaped by digitally networked urban migrants. Historically, migrants came to cities seeking economic opportunity and safety. From the late-18th century to the mid-20th century cities provided these opportunities, with industrial technological change creating new opportunities for people to work in urban areas. Digitalization in the 21st century has changed the economic and social nature of cities though, and created new avenues for social and political organizing in urban areas. Using survey and interview data collected in 2018 and 2019 from urban migrants and refugees in Bogota, Nairobi, and Kuala Lumpur, as well as historical analysis of 19th and 20th century urban migration and urban theory, the presentation will offer empirical observations about the future role of migrants in growing middle income cities in the digital era. The evidence indicates that we need to see the combination of digitalization and urban migration as factors that will shape emerging metropolises in markedly different ways than the 20th century trajectories of cities in high-income countries.

The link to the virtual conference room will be sent directly to the participants. You can  register as listener until 22 November 2020

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Dr. Charles Martin-Shields

Dr. Charles Martin-Shields

German Development Institute (DIE/GDI)

Charles Martin-Shields is a Senior Researcher at the German Development Institute in Bonn, Germany. His research focuses on the intersection between migration, digitalization, and development policy. Dr. Martin-Shields’s current research looks at how digitalization is changing the way that urban migrants integrate into cities of arrival, and how these changes reflexively affect the ways that migrants influence the development of cities. He has also done research on the role of digitalization and technological change in humanitarian response, peacekeeping, and social inclusion. Prior to the German Development Institute, Dr. Martin-Shields was a guest scholar at the Carter School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Arlington, VA, USA, and has served as a consultant for the World Bank and U.S. Institute of Peace.

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