Ordinary Cities and EXTRAordinary Immigrants: Liquid Identities in the Urban Settings

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Tetiana Havlin, University of Siegen, Germany


    The metropolises and megacities are magnets for immigrants across the world. They correspond with the rational choices of immigrants for better life chances, for multiple job opportunities, for challenging surroundings, etc. They define dynamics of migration flows between the countries and continents. What about the rest of urban units – mid-sized or small cities – which have less to offer, which are more conservative, less open-mindedand simply more ordinary? How do they compete in the world contest for creative labor forces, for innovations and investments? How do they make themselves attractive to the newcomers and at the same time how do they preserve their regional identities in the face of great unknown that is immigrants? The given paper aims at answering these questions focusing on the case study of a mid-sized German city, Kaiserslautern with approximately 100.000 inhabitants and 12 percent share of the immigrants. The city is located in the Western part of Germany close to the French and Luxembourgian boarders. For an ordinary city,it represents interestednarrative of local urban identities enriched, at times confronted or at times ignoredbydifferent kind of strangers. The Kaiserslautern’s case study, investigated by means of ethnography and biographical methods, illustrates the embedding processes of various immigrant groups. Among others the most essential for the local identity quest are asylum seekers, ethnic German or Jewish re-settlers from the former Soviet Union, military-related US-citizens, and high-qualified professionals at university or in the IT branch.These different immigrant groups with their liquid identities influence the local society and its structures in their peculiar ways, transforming Kaiserslautern as an ordinary city by EXTRAordinary immigrants.