Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Montreal, April 14-18, 2021

(Deadline for submission: June 3, 2020)

Studies of the global city have mainly centered on understanding the flows of finance capital and the consequences of neo- liberal policies that support corporate and private interests. Urban governance and commerce are often discussed through a macro-lens, and migration is commonly recognized as a consequence to the movements of capital and information. Overlooked are the ways in which the urban built environment has long been shaped intentionally by immigrants who find and make work often at the margins of these larger developments, creating their own particular transnational flows of goods, communication, and knowledge and claiming agency through transient and local acts of reuse, adaptation, and manipulation of structures, materials, and objects.

This session focuses on the role migration has had in defining the identities of cities and their neighborhoods, examining how immigrants have shaped the urban landscape through commercial and mixed-use developments such as strip-malls, corner shops, and market stalls. The study of these interstitial spaces demands architectural analyses that can address ancillary spatial practices, global and transnational exchanges, markets and movements of people, goods, and symbols specific to urban minorities. We welcome papers that address the ways in which commercial endeavors by immigrants, defined by the particular locale, have contributed to the forms and histories of a given city at all geographical and temporal scales from the environmental, historical to the ephemeral, from the storefront, street, neighborhood, to the region. Topics that address social identity formation, place-making, and self-representation through building and using commercial and mixed-use spaces are encouraged. We especially appreciate contributions that provide a methodological counterpoint to macro-analyses of the concept of global cities with micro-histories that focus on the particularities of a given site and the agency of immigrant urban actors.

Session Chairs: Arijit Sen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Min Kyung Lee, Bryn Mawr College

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