Between March and October 2015 I had the privilege of joining Suzanne Hall as a researcher on her project: Super-diverse Streets, Economics and spaces of urban migration in UK cities at LSE Cities.
The first phase of project, which I was involved with, was a qualitative survey conducted on four ‘super-diverse’ high streets: Rookery Road (Birmingham); Stapleton Road (Bristol); Narborough Road (Leicester); and Cheetham Hill (Manchester). In total, the face-to-face surveys across four streets incorporated 910 units. This included 480 retail units and 351 proprietors were surveyed. This new data on ‘super-diverse streets’ provides insights into the micro-economies that provide important economic and civic resources across UK cities. These are streets that are located in ethnically diverse and comparatively deprived urban places, where urban retail spaces shape and are shaped by migrant investments. Beyond the outputs linked to here, we also produced a series of journal articles.
Envisioning Migration: Drawing the Infrastructure of Stapleton Road, Bristol is an exploration of the different ways drawing can be practised to understand how migration shapes the infrastructure of the so-called ‘British’ high street. The research emerges from a cross-disciplinary study of migrant economies and spaces on Stapleton Road, a high street in a comparatively deprived and diverse part of Bristol, UK. Our primary aim is to contribute to discussions about the role of drawing as a critical visual practice in social research, highlighting methodological and substantive potentials. The second aim of our paper is to elaborate on the relationships between urban migration, urban marginalization and ‘migrant infrastructure’, and we visualize through four drawings, how power, materiality and place constitute the infrastructure of Stapleton Road. We engage with infrastructure as a lively system of shared resources that situates migrant entrepreneurs in the city, and is configured by an array of migration processes across time and space. We suggest that drawing is an exploratory and critical visual practice, providing us tools to see socio-spatial relationships in temporal and scalar dimensions. To ‘envision’ migration is to encounter and re-present the varied dimensions of street life in relation to the structural production of urban migration, marginalization and diversity.