The result of the recent elections in Sweden has shown that there is considerable frustration concerning immigration policy. That the questions even exist is disgusting: what should the government do with immigrants? how many should be allowed in? from where? and how will we take care of them? I think rather the question is, how can we connect with each other? Open the borders up! Let people in! If we work to understand each other our culture will flourish, if we try to protect it, I fear that it will only die. The duality between concepts like city/suburb, majority/minority, all result in these absurd normative definitions of what an urban area is and can be.

Integration policy – and as an extension of it the policy of urban renewal – is almost exclusively focused on the impact of immigration on the host society: the consequences for social cohesion and national identity, the spatial concentration of disadvantaged groups, and social conflicts. Very little attention is paid to the way in which migrants – in the new, literal sense of the word: that is, people who do not settle permanently elsewhere – create worlds beyond the borders: transnational worlds. That phenomenon is not the same as globalization, in which the whole world seems to become homogenous. Globalization is about the increasing importance of flows (particularly of information and money), the decreasing importance is places and local properties, and a growing sense of uprootedness, of not feeling at home anywhere. Changes in the meaning of place and locality are a result of the increasing mobility of different groups and certainly play a role in the formation of transnational worlds. However, they are not purely the result of the strategies of multinationals and international organizations. They are above all the outcome of the actions of individuals and households. Those individuals do not simply exchange their home in one country for a place in another country, but create new links and networks between different places all over the globe. What is at issue here is not the existence of one world here and another world there, but the links between them.

T. Rieniets, J Sigler, K. Christiaanse, Open City: Designing Coexistence

Etymologically segregation has a moralistic tone, a religious tone:

segregate Look up segregate at
1540s, from L. segregatus, pp. of segregare “separate from the flock, isolate, divide,” from *se gregare, from se “apart from” (see secret) + grege, ablative of grex “herd, flock” (see gregarious). Originally often with reference to the religious notion of separating the flock of the godly from sinners.  (Etymonline)

The purpose of segregation is to create boundaries, for our own security. This logic finds its way to the media when in Sweden it is common to blame social problems on immigration or waves of ideas spreading up from Europe. Blaming social problems on minorities is nothing new, but it’s a shame if we continue to do this. After the Swedish Democrats have come to power, the discussion has been almost solely about the problem of their parliamentary existence, or even that the media or politicians are patronizing the party and it’s supporters and not actually addressing the problems that the immigration policy has evidently created. Yet what these problems are remain to be discussed. Strangely. I feel that we need deeper dialogues about what it actually means to segregate and to connect.

Posted by David