8 Dec

Geographical Review Preview: Cities and Migration – Bibliometric Evidence from a Spatially Biased Field of Knowledge Production

By: Antonie Schmiz* (corresponding), Carsten Felgentreff, Martin Franz, Marcel Paul, Andreas Pott, Charlotte Räuchle, Sebastian Schrader

What is the main purpose of your study? 
The main purpose of the study is to show that common research on migration and cities show a dominance of research in the Global North. We further aim to show that migration, despite being a global phenomenon, is primarily researched under the focus of immigration and arrival. Contexts of origin and transit routes are studied to a lesser extent. This study uncovers blind spots and illustrates how and why current research practices describe migration movements and cities in a biased way.

What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study? 
The findings require a stronger funding of research on the Global South, by scholars from the Global South and of North-South research cooperation. Strong open access policies and free access to academic journals for scholars from the Global South would further facilitate the participation of scholars from the Global South in global knowledge production. Structural inequalities in knowledge production could also be overcome by supporting and publishing research that introduces alternative perspectives and that focuses on the blind spots. More research on the relationship between the city and migration and on places of origin and transit, on migration routes, return migration and internal migration is needed.

How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
The study enables an overview on spatial inequalities and global hierarchies in knowledge production. It thus looks on the subject through a quantitative study on published articles in the field. The geographic perspective in this bibliometric study shows blind spots in the research landscape (see figures below).

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study? 

  1. Research on migration and cities show a dominance of research in the Global North, on places of migrant arrival and on larger cities.
  2. Rural settlements, small and medium-sized towns are underrepresented in research within the overlap of migration and urban studies.
  3. Research at the intersection of urban studies and migration studies reproduce global power hierarchies in knowledge production.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study? 
Comparative studies enable a relational perspective of migration research on different spatial scales. A reflexive approach on knowledge production helps to identify biases in research. With our study, we produce and reproduce terminological inequalities (i.e. Global South/Global North) and structures (i.e. English as dominant and privileged language in knowledge production, journal rankings as indications of quality, theory building in the Global North). How can this be overcome?

How does your research help us think about Geography? 
Geography as discipline both enables to identify blind spots and spatial biases in research. At the same time, it produces and reproduces them. Geography enables to adapt a spatial lens on distinct areas of research, such as migration ad urban studies.

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