Migrant atmospheres

Special Issue of "Ambiances" @AmbiancesJrnal - Deadline: 31.01.2022


  • Was Call For PapersMigrant atmospheres
  • Wann 11.10.2021 from to (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • benötigte Unterlagen Articles in English or French, 30,000-50,000 characters
  • Termin herunterladen event_note iCal Datei herunterladen


This special issue of Ambiances explores the transfers and creation of atmospheres and materialities caused by migratory movements, and how urban and architectural spaces develop, emerge or are transformed when specific migrant spatial practices intersect with specific hosting environments in the globalised contemporary city.

Studies of urban, spatial and architectural phenomena relating to migration most often consider migrants at the moment of their arrival, at a stage of crisis and urgency. Interest in the dynamics of their longer-term settling and its effect on the atmospheres and materialities of public space, landscape and architecture is less frequent. Likewise, there is considerable scholarship - reflecting the concerns of governing authorities - on issues of cosmopolitanism, living together, (hyper)diversity, and social interaction between local inhabitants and newcomers; but very few studies focus on atmospheres and materialised form as expressions of hybridization and creolisation, or on the idea that hospitality also occurs through the forms, materialities and atmospheres of spaces. How do built spaces and atmospheres provide affordances to different groups of people with practices and desires based on their different cultural backgrounds?

The editors of this issue are particularly interested in how settling longer-term in a foreign country triggers negotiations, arrangements, compromises, tactics, «bricolage», appropriations, collective reinterpretations, through which migrant groups participate in transforming local atmospheres and reshaping material configurations and typologies. Though long-term settling is often associated (for example in France) with a discourse of integration, it is clear to us that contemporary migrants are involved, rather than in one-way displacements between a country of departure and a country of arrival, in multi-directional spatial strategies and relations between two, and often more than two, countries. Their trajectories might include prior displacement within their own land, returning to their home territory, long stays in several consecutive countries, or links with their national diaspora in other countries, which make them actors in the complex circulation of cultures. They also form fluctuating and heterogeneous communities on grounds, often combined in subtle ways, of nationality, ethnicity, cast, social status, political allegiance, religion, and geographical origins. Thus they challenge the simple notion of cultures of origin. It is precisely the manifold material and spatial expressions of this web of belongings in urban and architectural space that interest us.

Migrant groups bring spatial models, values and material objects, and adapt them to new contexts. How do these material transfers, be it in collective or domestic space, help to re-create atmospheres that are missed from «over there» and affect atmospheres prevalent in the hosting environment? Inversely, how does the desire to maintain atmospheres from «over there» affect material forms? Also, how do migrants actively create new atmospheres and spatial situations that do not exist «over there» but only «here», expecting the broader public to perceive these as «foreign». In other words, how do atmospheres and materiality play a significant role in determining what and who defines «here» and «there», as well as the «there that is here», just as much from the point of view of one specific migrant community as from that of other migrant communities and the inhabitants of the new environment.

The editors will be particularly interested in proposals drawing on the approaches and methods of material cultures studies, and on those applying material cultures studies to observe details of gesture and choreography, daily or occasional spatial rituals, and sensorial thresholds. An important aspect will therefore be the links between material culture (such as architectural types, use of materials and craft, material objects, etc.) and immaterial phenomena (sound, smell, temperature, gestures, etc.) in migrants’ contributions to urban space and architecture in host contexts, over the course of time. The editors invite proposals on any country, and on all directions and phenomena of transfer (north/south, south/north, poor/rich, rich/poor, rich/rich or poor/poor, leaving/ returning home, etc.), drawing attention to the concrete details (physical, immaterial, administrative) of the process of the transfer.

They address their call not only to researchers in the human sciences but also to architects and town planners who have touched on these questions in their designs or experimental work.


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