Kammer 3


Karachi, Paris, São Paulo, Shenzhen, Munich – An international perspective on migration, in English

Urbanity means the ability to emerge from the sphere of private withdrawal into the world – into a sphere of unfamiliarity that, according to Georg Simmel, we cope with in ways ranging from tolerance to ignorance and arrogance. Urbanity makes it possible to be alien, different, to abandon established roles. This coolness in proximity to one another is what makes tolerance possible and unfamiliarity endurable. It is against this backdrop that the city is also described as an “engine of tolerance,” a classical definition of urbanity in urban sociology since Simmel’s times. Today, apart from the site of tolerance, we also emphasise the site of solidarity as a crucial public sphere. As a result, the definition of urbanity also changes as the political aspect of social solidarity increasingly gains in importance.

In this dialectic of solidarity and tolerance we see the power of cities to manage migration. However, the causes and conditions of migration are complex and disparate: war and flight from violence, dispossession for ethnic reasons, structural change involving rural depopulation and the prosperity of cities, hopes for participation in society or for individual opportunities. The boundary between legal migration in a globalised world and illegal migration as a consequence of conflicts and poverty often cannot be drawn clearly. In this respect, Karachi, Mumbai, Munich, Johannesburg, Shenzhen and São Paulo cannot be lumped together, but instead each of these cities must face specific challenges within the world-wide process of migrations.

Furthermore, each of these cities has a different culture for dealing with sheltering, acclimatisation, rejection, integration and inclusion of migrants. There are classic migrants’ neighbourhoods that serve in the biographies of individual persons as sites of acclimatisation, familiarisation and transition. There are official policies of toleration of illegal migrants – or of ignoring them. There are unofficial practices of settling migrants in squats, favelas or gecekondus, based on various, specific, historically based land rights, or on distinct political cultures.

The diversity of cultures of public life is also of great significance. City-dwellers evolve habits and customs that not only make living at close quarters with strangers tolerable, but also cultivate distinct forms of social enactment – situations in which language, gestures, movement, dress and rituals of daily life play a part. Informal, ephemeral encounters here or codified, ritualised gatherings there, such as taking a stroll or going to a football game, or to a public library. The preliminary symposium “Public Space: Fights and Fictions” at the Academy of Arts in Berlin highlights public space as a platform of political and social engagement and debate, as a keystone of the democratic way of life. We shall follow up this investigation of public space with “The City as Engine of Tolerance.”


Tentative Collective – Artist collective, Karachi, Pakistan
ArchiDebout – Architects, Paris
Renato Cymbalista – City planer, São Paulo, Brazil
Doreen Heng Liu – Architektin, Shenzhen
Sophie Wolfrum, Urbanist – Munich

Moderation: Amira El Ahl, Journalist

In English, with simultaneous translation into German.

This event follows the live video conference „No Limits? Globale Perspektiven auf Migration und Flucht. Istanbul / Mexiko-Stadt / München“, which happened in April, as well as the symposium „Public Space: Fights and Fictions“.

City as engine of tolerance” is a cooperation of the Goethe-Instituts, the Technical University Munich and the Münchner Kammerspiele – it is furthermore supported by the Hans Sauer Stiftung and Graphisoft.

24 May 2016

In cooperation with

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