Urban Citizenship and the Spatial Encounter between Turkish Migrants and Syrian Refugees in Berlin


  • Burcu Togral Koca Technische Universität Berlin, Institut für Stadt- und Regionalplanung, Fachgebiet Transformation städtischer Räume im internationalen KontextBerlin, Deutschland




Berlin, urban citizenship, Turkish migrants, Syrian refugees, spatial encounter


This article critically discusses how Turkish migrants as an established migrant group have interpreted and acted on the arrival of Syrian refugees in Berlin from 2015 onwards and whether their responses have resulted in new spaces in which new contestations and/or solidarities emerge. To this end, it focuses on the processes and the ways in which established groups (re-)articulate their urban citizenship and belonging to a particular urban space in relation to newcomers. Building on the analytical framework of relational and agency-centered articulation of urban citizenship and drawing on research data collected in the Kreuzberg and Neukölln neighborhoods of Berlin, the analysis has two main findings. Firstly, Turkish migrants have been involved in solidarity activities and contribute to a more inclusive urban citizenship regarding Syrian refugees. At the same time, they perceive Syrian refugees as a threat to their standing in the city and their right to the usage of urban space. This results in a more defensive urban citizenship against the refugees. Secondly, the unequal power relations and local, national and transitional dynamics act as intervening factors shaping Turkish migrants' responses to Syrian refugees and the process of urban citizenship formation.


Download data is not yet available.


Balibar, E. (1991): Is there a 'Neo-Racism'? In: Balibar, E.; Wallerstein, I. (eds.): Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities. London/New York, 17-28.

Benhabib, S. (1999): Citizens, Residents, and Aliens in a Changing World. Political Membership in the Global Era. In: Social Research 66, 3, 709-744.

Bork-Hüffer, T.; Etzold, B.; Gransow, B.; Tomba, L; Sterly, H.; Suda, K.; Kraas, F.; Flock, R. (2016): Agency and the Making of Transient Urban Spaces: Examples of Migrants in the City in the Pearl River Delta, China, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. In: Population, Space and Place 22, 2, 128-145. doi: 10.1002/psp.1890

Castaneda, E. (2012): Urban Citizenship in New York, Paris, and Barcelona: Immigrant Organizations and the Right to Inhabit the City. In: Smith, M.P.; McQuarrie, M. (eds.): Remaking Urban Citizenship: Organizations, Institutions, and The Right to the City. New Brunswick/London. 57-79.

Çağlar.A. (2001): Constraining metaphorsandthetransnationalisation of spaces in Berlin. In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 27, 4, 601-613. doi: 10.1080/13691830120090403

Çağlar, A. (2016): Still 'migrants' after all those years: foundational mobilities, temporal frames and emplacement of migrants. In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42, 6, 952-969. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1126085

Çağlar, A.; Glick Schiller, N. (2018): Migrants and City-Making: Dispossession, Displacement, and Urban Regeneration. Durham.

Cohen, N. (2015): Southern Discomfort: Defensive Urban Citizenship in Tel Aviv. In: Matejskova, T.; Antonsich, M. (eds.): Governing through Diversity. Migration Societies in Post-Multiculturalist Times. London, 161-180. doi: 10.1007/978-1-13743825-6

Cohen, N.; Margalit, T. (2015): There are Really Two Cities Here': Fragmented Urban Citizenship in Tel Aviv. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39, 4, 666-686. doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12260

Ehrkamp, P.; Leitner, H. (2003): Beyond National Citizenship: Turkish Immigrants and the (RE)Construction of Citizenship in Germany. In: Urban Geography 24, 2, 127-146. doi: 10.2747/0272-3638.24.2.127

Fenster, T. (2010): The Right to the City and Gendered Everyday Life. In: Sugranyes, A.; Mathivet, C. (eds.): Cities for All. Proposals and Experiences towards the Right to the City. Santiago, 63-76.

Freiheit, M.; Seidelsohn, K. (2013): Group focused Enmity in the Locality: Perspectives on Conflicts in a Changing Neighborhood. Presented at the RC 21 Conference 2013, Resourceful Cities, Humboldt University Berlin. http://www.rc21.org/conferences/berlin2013/RC21-Berlin-Papers-3/13-Freiheit-Seidelsohn.pdf (11.01.2019).

Freiheit, M.; Seidelsohn, K. (2016): Perspectives on conflicts and potentials in a changing neighbourhood: Berlin-Neukölln and the role of urban governance. In: Sirkeci, I.; Cohen, J.H.; Yazgan, P. (eds.): Conflict, Insecurity and Mobility. London, 77-88.

Gebhardt, D. (2016): Cities and immigrant citizenship: A comparison of local citizenship policies in Barcelona and Munich. Barcelona. = GRITIM-UPF Working Paper Series 26.

Glick Schiller, N.; Çağlar, A. (2009): Towards a Comparative Theory of Locality in Migration Studies: Migrant Incorporation and City Scale. In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35, 2, 177202. doi: 10.1080/13691830802586179

Glick Schiller, N.; Meinhof, U.H. (2011): Singing a New Song? Transnational Migration, Methodological Nationalism and Cosmopolitan Perspectives. In: Music and Arts in Action 3, 3, 21-39.

Hall, A.; Lichfield, J. (2015): Germany opens its gates: Berlin says all Syrian asylum-seekers are welcome to remain, as Britain is urged to make a 'similar statement'. In: The Independent, August 24, 2015.

Harvey, D. (2012): Rebel Cities. From the right to the city to the urban revolution. London.

Hillmann, F. (Hrsg.) (2011): Marginale Urbanität. Migrantisches Unternehmertum und Stadtentwicklung. Bielefeld.

Holm, A. (2013): Berlin's Gentrification Mainstream. In: Bernt, M.; Grell, B.; Holm, A. (eds.): The Berlin Reader. A Compendium on Urban Change and Activism. Bielefeld. 171-188.

Huning, S.; Schuster, N. (2015): 'Social Mixing' or 'Gentrification'? Contradictory Perspectives on Urban Change in the Berlin District of Neukölln. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39, 4, 738-755. doi: 10.1111/14682427.12280

Huysmans, J. (2006): The Politics of Insecurity. Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU. London.

Işin, E.F. (2002): Being Political: Genealogies of Citizenship. Minneapolis.

Işin, E.F.; Wood, P.K. (1999): Citizenship and Identity. London.

Kalandides, A.; Vaiou, D. (2012): 'Ethnic' neighbourhoods? Practices of belonging and claims to the city: In: European Urban and Regional Studies 19, 3, 254-266. doi: 10.1177/0969776412438328

Katz, B.; Noring, L.; Garrelts, N. (2016): Cities and Refugees: The German Experience. Washington, DC.

Kemp, A.; Lebuhn, H.; Rattner, G. (2015): Between Neoliberal Governance and the Right to the City: Participatory politics in Berlin and Tel Aviv. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39, 4, 704-725. doi: 10.1111/14682427.12262

Kil, W.; Silver, H. (2006): From Kreuzberg to Marzahn: New Migrant Communities in Berlin. In: German Politics and Society 24, 4, 95-121.

Koopmans, R. (2004): Migrant mobilisation and political opportunities: variation among German cities and a comparison with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30, 3, 449-470. doi: 10.1080/13691830410001682034

Lebuhn, H. (2015): Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin. Understanding the City through Crisis. In: Critical Planning 22, 99-118.

Lefebvre, H. (1996): The right to the city. In: Kofman, E.; Lebas, E. (eds.): Writings on cities. Oxford, 147-159.

Massey, D. (2011): For Space. Los Angeles.

Mayer, M. (2018). Cities as sites of refuge and resistance. In: European Urban and Regional Studies 25, 3, 232-249. doi: 10.1177/0969776417729963

Miller, B.; Nicholls, W. (2013): Social Movements in Urban Society: The City as a Space of Politicization. In: Urban Geography 34, 4, 452-473. doi: 10.1080/02723638.2013.786904

Painter, J. (2005): Urban citizenship and rights to the city. Project Report. International Centre for Regional Regeneration and Development Studies. Durham.

Purcell, M. (2014): Possible Worlds: Henri Lefebvre and the Right to the City. In: Journal of Urban Affairs 36, 1, 141-154. doi: 10.1111/juaf.12034

Smith, M.P.; Guarnizo, L.E. (2009): Global Mobility, Shifting Borders and Urban Citizenship. In: Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 100, 5, 610-662. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9663.2009.00567.x

Soysal, Y.N. (1994): Limits of Citizenship: Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe. Chicago.

Varsanyi, M.W. (2006): Interrogating "Urban Citizenship" vis-à-vis Undocumented Migration. In: Citizenship Studies 10, 2, 229249. doi: 10.1080/13621020600633168

Wimmer, A.; Glick Schiller, N. (2003): Methodological Nationalism, the Social Sciences, and the Study of Migration: An Essay in Historical Epistemology. In: International Migration Review 37, 3, 576-610. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2003.tb00151.x






Research Article

How to Cite

Koca BT. Urban Citizenship and the Spatial Encounter between Turkish Migrants and Syrian Refugees in Berlin. RuR [Internet]. 2019 Dec. 31 [cited 2024 Jun. 22];77(6):567-81. Available from: https://rur.oekom.de/index.php/rur/article/view/296