Ilker Ataç

Is Urban Citizenship the Right Answer to the Crisis of European Border Politics? Entanglement of Non-State Actors with the Local Municipalities Across Europe

As migration and border policies have been continuously tightened and fundamental rights restricted in Europe and elsewhere in the past few years, new pro-migrant movements, networks and policies are emerging at a local scale that run contrary to this. Debates about the “local turn” of migration and border regime analysis, urban citizenship and sanctuary cities signal a shift to local politics in the field of migration. Increasingly, civil society but also municipal initiatives emerge that address the local scale to make and frame their claims and to implement their goals. New political visions and concrete experiences are emerging that combine questions of the right to have rights including civic, political and social rights.

The literature on urban citizenship/solidarity cities reframes membership at an urban level as an inclusive practice: either as activities of city governments, e.g. when they act inclusively towards irregular migrants and/or hinder the implementation of restrictive national policies or when civil society actors and social movement-based initiatives offer inclusionary services and make inclusive claims. In this talk, I will contribute to the debates on the entanglement of social movements and civil society organisations with local municipalities across Europe and want to bring the analyses and experiences of diverse initiatives into discussion. I will discuss the promising and ambivalent practices, relations and institutions of local migration politics. By exploring these distinct initiatives in tandem, I will present, on the one hand, how the production of spaces of encounters is linked to building transversal solidarities and, on the other, how transversal solidarities also connect different spaces of solidarity across different political scales.


Ilker Ataç is a professor at the Department of Social Welfare in the University of Applied Sciences Fulda in Germany. Previously, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna, at the Department of Social Welfare at the RheinMain University and at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at the university of Osnabrück. His research interests are in citizenship studies, migration and social policy, social movements, civil society and urban policies. He is on the editorial board of the journal Movements. His work has appeared in several book chapters and in international academic journals including Citizenship Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, the Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, and Social Movement Studies, among others.