The Migrant's Paradox by Suzanne M. Hall, University of Minnesota Press

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Suzanne M. Hall’s The Migrant’s Paradox is a work of interdisciplinary urban scholarship. Hall carefully engages with Geography and theory of the spatial, alongside her core discipline of Sociology, and training in Architecture. Building richly upon the ideas of multiple scholars, The Migrant’s Paradox is especially influenced by Geographer Doreen Massey and her seminal essay ‘a Global Sense of Place’. Like Massey, Hall explores the relationship of the structural and lived everyday for understanding how power differently impacts upon people and place. Hall develops a compelling and original methodological framework for exploring life and space available to migrants by writing the street as world. She does this through extensive ethnographic research accompanied by beautiful architectural drawings of five different streets in deindustrialised cities in England (Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, London and Manchester).

A book that at its heart critically evaluates inequality in Britain, and who is responsible for
widening the gap, The Migrant’s Paradox highlights how politics has delivered a larger privatised state with greater precarity while simultaneously blaming ‘immigrants’ for the depletion of available public resources. By turning away from the essentialised and overdetermined language of ethnic and immigrant, Hall is interested in evaluating edge economies, and through that the relationship of the edge to the centre, and thereby rethinking the concepts of bordering and citizenship in a more globalised age. In reconsidering the relationship between state and street, Hall writes that this makes it harder to work out ‘what is the border’? But the book also raises the more geographical question of ‘where is the border’? And how do internal forms of bordering impact denizen lives, where there is an active plurality of racisms? Migrants are seen as border-crossing people, to borrow the term of Monisha Das Gupta, and the margins are realised as not peripheral in importance but a key conceptual terrain by which to push back, refute and reconfigure our understandings of the political and economic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • Migration
  • Ethnography
  • citizenship
  • bordering
  • Place
  • Austerity


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