The Migrant’s Paradox

Street Livelihoods and Marginal Citizenship in Britain

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Suzanne M. Hall

Connects global migration with urban marginalization, exploring how “race” maps onto place across the globe, state, and street

In this richly observed account of migrant shopkeepers in five cities in the United Kingdom, Suzanne Hall examines the brutal contradictions of sovereignty and capitalism in the formation of street livelihoods in the urban margins. Hall locates The Migrant's Paradox on streets in the far-flung parts of de-industrialized peripheries, where jobs are hard to come by and the impacts of historic state underinvestment are deeply felt.

Drawing on hundreds of in-person interviews on streets in Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, London, and Manchester, Hall brings together histories of colonization with current forms of coloniality. Her six-year project spans the combined impacts of the 2008 financial crisis, austerity governance, punitive immigration laws and the Brexit Referendum, and processes of state-sanctioned regeneration. She incorporates the spaces of shops, conference halls, and planning offices to capture how official border talk overlaps with everyday formations of work and belonging on the street.

Original and ambitious, Hall's work complicates understandings of migrants, demonstrating how migrant journeys and claims to space illuminate the relations between global displacement and urban emplacement. In articulating “a citizenship of the edge” as an adaptive and audacious mode of belonging, she shows how sovereignty and inequality are maintained and refuted.

Background photo by Raoul Croes on Unsplash


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    The Migrant's Paradox: Street Livelihoods and Marginal Citizenship in Britain is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0):
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    The University of Minnesota Press gratefully acknowledges financial support for the open-access edition of this title from the UK Research and Innovation Body, in connection with an ESRC grant (ES/L009560/1).

    Portions of chapters 2 and 3 were previously published as “Migrant Margins: The Streetlife of Discrimination,” The Sociological Review 65, no. 5 (2018): 968–83; copyright 2018 by Suzanne M. Hall. Portions of chapter 4 were previously published as “Migrant Urbanisms: Ordinary Cities and Everyday Resistance,” Sociology 49, no. 5 (2015): 853–69.

    Copyright 2021 by Suzanne M. Hall