Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World

Overview

Look around: the largest migration in human history is under way. For the first time ever, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. Between 2007 and 2050, the world’s cities will have absorbed 3.1 billion people. Urbanization is the mass movement that will change our world during the twenty-first century, and the “arrival city” is where it is taking place.
 
The arrival city exists on the outskirts of the metropolis, in the ...

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Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World

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Overview

Look around: the largest migration in human history is under way. For the first time ever, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. Between 2007 and 2050, the world’s cities will have absorbed 3.1 billion people. Urbanization is the mass movement that will change our world during the twenty-first century, and the “arrival city” is where it is taking place.
 
The arrival city exists on the outskirts of the metropolis, in the slums, or in the suburbs; the American version is New York’s Lower East Side of a century ago or today’s Herndon County, Virginia. These are the places where newcomers try to establish new lives and to integrate themselves socially and economically. Their goal is to build communities, to save and invest, and, hopefully, move out, making room for the next wave of migrants. For some, success is years away; for others, it will never come at all.
 
As vibrant places of exchange, arrival cities have long been indicators of social health. Whether it’s Paris in 1789 or Tehran in 1978, whenever migrant populations are systematically ignored, we should expect violence and extremism. But, as the award-winning journalist Doug Saunders demonstrates, when we make proper investments in our arrival cities—through transportation, education, security, and citizenship—a prosperous middle class develops.
 
Saunders takes us on a tour of these vital centers, from Maryland to Shenzhen, from the favelas of Rio to the shantytowns of Mumbai, from Los Angeles to Nairobi. He uncovers the stories—both inspiring and heartbreaking—of the people who live there, and he shows us how the life or death of our arrival cities will determine the shape of our future.

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Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
Serious, mightily researched, lofty and humane, Arrival City is packed with salient detail and could hardly be more timely…[Saunders] presents these fringe worlds not as fetid ghettos or pots of simmering radicalism. Instead, he argues, they are kilns of reverberating energy and optimism where the world's rural downtrodden seek a foothold in the modern world…Mr. Saunders's optimistic book, which draws on the work of economists, sociologists and urban planners, feels as important in its way as was Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961. It feels like a game changer; it should certainly be a policy changer.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In a globe-trotting narrative alive with on-the-ground reportage, journalist Saunders offers a cautionary but essentially optimistic perspective on global urbanization. He concentrates on the slums and satellite communities that act as portals from villages to cities and, in turn, revitalize village economies. Policy makers misunderstand at their peril these "arrival cities"—London's heavily Bangladeshi Tower Hamlets, Brazil's favelas, China's Shenzhen. Citing the statistical relationship between urbanization and falling poverty rates, as well as historical precedents like Paris ("the first great arrival city of the modern world"), Saunders insists urban migration means improvement overall, and that the arrival city serves as a springboard for the integration of new populations. While the picture of urbanization veers from gloomier forecasts by analysts like Mike Davis (Planet of Slums), it does so by eschewing direct questioning of the global economic system driving much of this migration. Barely addressed are food, energy, and water shortages, or the fact that healthy city growth requires preservation of surrounding ecosystems on which cities habitually wreak havoc. Saunders's narrative, however, does plead for rational and humane planning within global capitalism to ensure that arrival cities fulfill their purpose and achieve their potential. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“A brisk world tour of enormous urban-fringe neighborhoods populated by people who have left the countryside, among them Tartary, in west-central Poland; Kibera, in Nairobi; and Petare, in Caracas . . . Perhaps because Saunders is a journalist who isn’t selling his advice, his version of the city is . . . more persuasive.”
—Nicholas Leman, The New Yorker
 
“Saunders’s success stories tend to begin with benign neglect—as the arrival city takes its emergent form, dense and improvised—and to end with carefully tailored state interventions. These efforts typically go well beyond legal measures like title granting, he notes, to include ‘a wide and expensive range of government-funded services and supports.’ One does not need to be a cynic, alas, to suspect that cities and nations may not apply their best policies to their worst neighborhoods. But for those who are wise enough to try, Saunders has written the manual.”
—Jonathan Shainin, Bookforum
 
“[An] excellent account of how urban immigrant centers function in increasingly subtle ways, and how governments succeed and fail in managing them. . . . Arrival City asks that we take a closer look at urbanization before its mismanagement is further mistaken for the thing itself, and to recognize that a citified future is not necessarily a doomed one.”
—Jessica Loudis, NPR.org

“Serious, mightily researched, lofty and humane, Arrival City is packed with salient detail and could hardly be more timely. . . . Saunders’s optimistic book, which draws on the work of economists, sociologists and urban planners, feels as important in its way as was Jane Jacobs’s Death and Life of Great American Cities . . . It feels like a game changer; it should certainly be a policy changer.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Life in the arrival city can be fragile, precarious and lonely. It can also be liberating, empowering and the path to economic success and personal fulfillment. Arrival City presents an optimistic and humane view of global urbanization. Let’s hope urban planners and politicians pay attention.”
—Melanie Kirkpatrick, Wall Street Journal

“A brisk world tour of enormous urban-fringe neighborhoods populated by people who have left the countryside, among them Tartary, in west-central Poland; Kibera, in Nairobi; and Petare, in Caracas . . . Perhaps because Saunders is a journalist who isn’t selling his advice, his version of the city is . . . more persuasive.”
—Nicholas Leman, The New Yorker
 
“Saunders’s success stories tend to begin with benign neglect—as the arrival city takes its emergent form, dense and improvised—and to end with carefully tailored state interventions. These efforts typically go well beyond legal measures like title granting, he notes, to include ‘a wide and expensive range of government-funded services and supports.’ One does not need to be a cynic, alas, to suspect that cities and nations may not apply their best policies to their worst neighborhoods. But for those who are wise enough to try, Saunders has written the manual.”
—Jonathan Shainin, Bookforum
 
“[An] excellent account of how urban immigrant centers function in increasingly subtle ways, and how governments succeed and fail in managing them. . . . Arrival City asks that we take a closer look at urbanization before its mismanagement is further mistaken for the thing itself, and to recognize that a citified future is not necessarily a doomed one.”
—Jessica Loudis, NPR.org
 
“With the voice of a seasoned reporter, Saunders writes compelling, first-hand narratives describing the challenges and triumphs of migrant families from across the globe . . . The major contribution of Arrival City is a call to take seriously the needs of immigrant communities in urban areas.”
—Chesa Boudin, San Francisco Chronicle

“Incisive study of worldwide rural-to-urban migration, its complex social mechanisms and the consequences of institutional neglect . . . Never speculative, Saunders dexterously weaves personal case studies—some of which are practically unspeakable and ultimately overwhelming—with the broader institutional context. An essential work for those who pay attention to the effects of globalization—which is, or at least should be, nearly everyone.”
Kirkus Reviews

 
FROM THE UK AND CANADA
Arrival City brilliantly captures the breakneck pace of this ‘great migration,’ as the peasants of the poor world relocate to their own megacities – and ours. And it brings profoundly good news from the mean streets . . . Bottom of Form
Doug Saunders, a Canadian journalist skilled in both colourful reportage and sustaining a good argument, provides a badly needed progressive and optimistic narrative about our future. This is the perfect antidote to the doom-laden determinism of the last popular book on urbanisation, Mike Davis's Planet of Slums . . . This may be the best popular book on cities since Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities half a century ago. Certainly, it shares the same optimism about human aspiration amid overcrowded buildings and unplanned urban jungles, and the same plea for planners to help rather than stifle those dreams . . . Few books can make rationalists feel optimistic and empowered for the future. This one does.’ —Fred Pearce, The Guardian
 
“Brilliantly researched, hugely valuable new book. . . . A testament to the value of research and knowledge. . . . Arrival City is a masterpiece of reporting, one of the most valuable and lucid works on public policy published anywhere in years. That Saunders produced it now, as journalism is moving more and more toward the temporary, makes it even more remarkable. As the business he works in strives every day to give consumers less information more often, Saunders does the opposite. He takes the long view. He questions perceived wisdom and finds answers in research, reporting and facts.”
––Richard Warnica, Edmonton Journal (review also appeared in The Vancouver Sun and The Gazette)
 
 “[This] book not only ranks as one of the year’s most engaging and important works of non-fiction. It gives a vital resource to everyone who wants to learn about the pursuit of the public good in an era of challenged or enfeebled nation-states. With sharply written case-studies from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the banlieues of Paris and the so-called ‘slums’ of Mumbai, Saunders shows that the ‘arrival city’ of informal communities, where migrants from rural hinterlands to urban centres gather, presents not simply one of the world’s most pressing problems. It also offers us the most promising solutions . . . For his part, Saunders extends the debate about globalisation and immigration to embrace the lessons of urban history. In his close attention to the voices of actual incomers – many of them Muslims in Europe, in all their diversity; even more not – he also supplies a hugely welcome antidote to the toxic nonsense about ‘Eurabia.’”
—Boyd Tonkin, Independent
 
“Provocative . . .  Arrival City addresses the great neglected trend of the 21st century: urbanisation. Travelling across the globe, from Rio de Janeiro’s favelas to Nairobi’s slums and Berlin’s Turkish enclave, Saunders weaves the tales of individual migrants through his vast story, that of the current, final great human movement – involving a third of our species – from the countryside to the city . . . A powerful work . . . But Arrival City is above all a warning. Migration is changing our world, and Saunders believes our reaction to it now will determine whether it can help eliminate poverty or whether it will cause catastrophe.”
—Rosamund Urwin, The Evening Standard
 
“Doug Saunders’s important new book, Arrival City, deals with an unglamorous but bitingly important issue: the largest ever human migration . . . While various academic titles have plumbed this phenomenon, no single book – until now – has breathed such life and human drama into it . . . The book engages while remaining serious. It pulls in the reader by centring its storyline on the fate of its numerous lead characters . . . The book tells a fascinating tale . . . Doug Saunders’s greatest strength lies in the global breadth of his reportage, which moves from the alleys of Mumbai to the soulless banlieues of Paris with the urgency of an international spy thriller. His evocative descriptions of open sewers, precarious dwellings, dark, dangerous spaces, noisy slum factories and the indomitable spirit of humanity transform a complex, serious subject into a page-turning read.”
—Eric Kaufmann, The Literary Review
 
“The book’s focus is not the migration itself, but what happens in the cities of arrival . . . Saunders’s approach is through anecdotes and vignettes, but he has done his legwork so they cumulate into a persuasive whole . . . Highly readable.”
—Paul Collier, The Financial Times
 
“Saunders looks beyond what he sees as a pretty transitional flight and instead focuses, to absorbing effect, on the destination cities . . . Recent books on the phenomenon of mass migration have been riddled with portents of gloom . . . Saunders’ thesis is far more positive…Serving as both a wide-ranging examination of the present – and a measured look into the future – Arrival City is an absorbing, enlightening read.”
The Sunday Business Post
 
“What’s . . . unusual . . . is that Saunders’s look at life inside the slums brims with hope, redemption and possibility. . . . Saunder’s writing style is sumptuous and it’s clear that he is more portraitist than statistician: he meanders through slums, noting the smells, colours and sounds. . . . By personally acquainting readers with humanity on the margins, it just may open your mind to the aspirations of billions of people that few in the prosperous west take the time to consider.”
––SEE Magazine
 
“This book is a broadly researched, passionate and portentous call for a new way to look at the experience of migrants. It is essential reading for policymakers––and for all who look at the future of cities with a mix of hope and fear. . . . A well-argued treatise on urban planning.” ––Winnipeg Free Press
 
 
“[A] timely contribution to the discourse on global cities. . . . Saunders’s contribution is valuable. It combines two virtues not often encountered in the literature: a focus on the margins of very large cities, where new arrivals mostly negotiate their first steps to urbanization, and an immediacy of reportage in the real details of individual stories. . . . Saunders has travelled far and listened hard. . . . The book is a sympathetic and, finally, optimistic work of social journalism. . . . Doug Saunders offers a readable, immediate social history of how we might be getting there [future cities].” ––Mark Kingwell, The Globe and Mail
 
“His premise is well argued. . . . Saunders’s prescription for dealing with urbanization . . . is eminently reasonable, and it is mostly borne out by the findings presented in the book.” ––Quill & Quire
 

Library Journal
A rural to urban migration is playing out now around the world, driven by a desire to escape rural poverty for an opportunity to attain urban middle-class status. London-based journalist Saunders (European bureau chief, Globe and Mail, Toronto) details the landscape of arrival cities—those urban subunits with larger migrant concentrations—around the world and the circumstances of today's migrant classes from arrival to assimilation. Through a panoramic look at 20 arrival cities and a seemingly innumerable number of migrant stories, Saunders argues that opportunities for education, owning housing, residing with immediate family members, and building businesses within these arrival cities determine whether migrant families are able to become successful, urban middle-class citizens or become stuck in an urban poverty turning to violence or extreme cultural or religious fundamentalism. He also evaluates the effect of arrival cities on both the villages left behind and the middle-class urban areas being striven toward. VERDICT While this book is presented as popular reading, the depth and breadth of the material often gives it more of an academic feel. Recommended to those seriously interested in current global class mobility and factors in successful migration.—Catherine McMullen, MLIS, Portland, OR
Kirkus Reviews

Incisive study of worldwide rural-to-urban migration, its complex social mechanisms and the consequences of institutional neglect.

Globe and Mail European bureau chief Saunders reveals how responses to the greatest migration in world history will either secure socio-economic stability or sink it into a galaxy of civil unrest and revolution. Every year, approximately two billion people migrate from rural villages to "arrival cities" across the world. Often constructed in haste and desperation, and in the margins of the main city, arrival cities are highly susceptible to social instability. Successful ones, like New York's Chinatown, overcome this adversity to later become highly desirable places to live, reversing the internal-urban migratory patterns. This reversal, often derogatorily referred to as "gentrification," is a result of an arrival city's success, not its failure. With thousands of arrival cities across the world, successleads to a flourishing middle class,failure to violence, gang activity and sometimes revolution and civil war. Left ignored, essential social services can be provided by migrant-driven ethnic movements, like the Shiv Sena in Mumbai, who provide substantial community services, but accomplish the tasks through criminal practices like bulldozing slums, neglecting the most basic sanitary needs. These movements, however, only take hold when governments take rural migrants for granted, allowing dangerous and divisive politics to fill the vacuum. Rural-urban migrants need stable networks to provide fundamentals like security and equity, including a system of urban remittance on which many villages depend. Governments that recognize this and help provide for such essentials as home ownership, land titles, schools, hospitals, security forces and transportation services can interrupt the mechanisms of social upheaval that lead to violence and revolution. Never speculative, Saunders dexterously weaves personal case studies—some of which are practically unspeakable and ultimately overwhelming—with the broader institutional context.

An essential work for those who pay attention to the effects of globalization—which is, or at least should be, nearly everyone.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307388568
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 431,233
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Doug Saunders is an award-winning journalist and the European bureau chief of The Globe and Mail. He lives in London.

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Read an Excerpt

Arrival City

How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World
By Doug Saunders

Pantheon

Copyright © 2011 Doug Saunders
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375425493

PREFACE
 
The Place Where Everything Changes
 
What will be remembered about the twenty-first century, more than anything else except perhaps the effects of a changing climate, is the great, and final, shift of human populations out of rural, agricultural life and into cities. We will end this century as a wholly urban species. This movement engages an unprecedented number of people—two or three billion humans, perhaps a third of the world’s population—and will affect almost everyone in tangible ways. It will be the last human movement of this size and scope; in fact, the changes it makes to family life, from large agrarian families to small urban ones, will put an end to the major theme of human history, continuous population growth.
 
The last time humans made such a dramatic migration, in Europe and the New World between the late eighteenth and the early twentieth centuries, the direct effect was a complete reinvention of human thought, governance, technology, and welfare. Mass urbanization produced the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and, with them, the enormous social and political changes of the previous two centuries. Yet this narrative of human change was not to be found in the newspapers of the 1840s or the parliamentary debates of the early twentieth century; the city-bound migration and the rise of new, transitional urban enclaves was a story largely unknown to the people directly affected by it. And the catastrophes of mismanaged urbanization—the human miseries and revolutionary uprisings and wars—were often a direct result of this blindness: We failed to account for this influx of people, and in the process created urban communities of recent arrivals who became trapped, excluded, resentful. Much of the history of this age was the history of deracinated people, deprived of franchise, making urgent and sometimes violent attempts to gain a standing in the urban order.
 
If we make a similar mistake today and dismiss the great migration as a negligible effect, as a background noise or a fate of others that we can avoid in our own countries, we are in danger of suffering far larger explosions and ruptures. Some aspects of this great migration are already unfolding in front of us: the tensions over immigration in the United States, Europe and Australia; the political explosions in Iran, Venezuela, Mumbai, Amsterdam, the outskirts of Paris. But many of the changes and discontinuities are not being noticed at all. We do not understand this migration because we do not know how to look at it. We do not know where to look. We have no place, no name, for the locus of our new world.
 
In my journalistic travels, I developed the habit of introducing myself to new cities by riding subway and tram routes to the end of the line, or into the hidden interstices and inaccessible corners of the urban core, and examining the places that extended before me. These are always fascinating, bustling, unattractive, improvised, difficult places, full of new people and big plans. My trip to the edge was not always by choice: I have found myself drawn by news events to the northern reaches of Mumbai, the dusty edges of Tehran, the hillside folds of São Paulo and Mexico City, the smouldering apartment block fringes of Paris and Amsterdam and Los Angeles. What I found in these places were people who had been born in villages, who had their minds and ambitions fixed on the symbolic center of the city, and who were engaged in a struggle of monumental scope to find a basic and lasting berth in the city for their children.
 
This ex-rural population, I found, was creating strikingly similar urban spaces all over the world: spaces whose physical appearance varied but whose basic set of functions, whose network of human relationships, was distinct and identifiable. And there was a contiguous, standardized pattern of institutions, customs, conflicts and frustrations being built and felt in these places across the poor expanses of the “developing” world and in the large, wealthy cities of the West. We need to devote far more attention to these places, for they are not just the sites of potential conflict and violence but also the neighborhoods where the transition from poverty occurs, where the next middle class is forged, where the next generation’s dreams, movements, and governments are created. At a time when the effectiveness and basic purpose of foreign aid have become matters of deep and well-deserved skepticism, I believe that these transitional urban spaces offer a solution. It is here, rather than at the “macro” state or “micro” household level, that serious and sustained investments from governments and agencies are most likely to create lasting and incorruptible benefit.
 
In researching this book, I have visited about 20 such places, in an effort to find key examples of the changes that are transforming cities and villages in far more countries. This is not an atlas of arrival or a universal guide to the great migration. Equally fascinating developments are occurring in Lima, Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Jakarta, Beijing, Marrakesh, Manila. Nor is this book without precedent. Scholars in migration studies, urban studies, sociology, geography, anthropology, and economics have documented the phenomena described here, and many of them have generously assisted me with my work. But the larger message is lost to many citizens and leaders: the great migration of humans is manifesting itself in the creation of a special kind of urban place. These transitional spaces—arrival cities— are the places where the next great economic and cultural boom will be born or where the next great explosion of violence will occur. The difference depends on our ability to notice and our willingness to engage.



Continues...

Excerpted from Arrival City by Doug Saunders Copyright © 2011 by Doug Saunders. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Map: Arrival Cities And their Villages vii

Preface: The Place Where Everything Changes 1

1 On the Edge of the City 5

Liu Gong Li, China 5

Tower Hamlets, London, U.K. 27

2 Outside In: The Lives of the New City 37

Kolhewadi, Ratnagiri, India 37

Kamrangirchar, Dhaka, Bangladesh 48

Shenzhen, China 58

Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya 63

Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 69

3 Arriving at the Top of the Pyramid 76

Los Angeles, California 76

Herndon, Virginia, and Wheaton, Maryland 94

4 The Urbanization of the Vaillage 101

Tatary, Poland

Shuilin, Sichuan, China 108

Dorli, Maharashtra, India 114

Biswanath, Sylhet, Bangladesh 120

5 The First Great Migration: How The West Arrived 130

Paris" 130

London 146

Toronto and Chicago 156

6 TheDeath and Life of a Great Arrival City 161

Istanbul 161

7 When the Margins Explode 197

Emamzadeh 'Isa, Tehran 197

Petare, Caracas 212

Mulund, Mumbai 218

8 The New City Confronts the Old World 229

Les Pyramides, Evry, France 229

Kreuzberg, Berlin 241

Parla, Spain 253

9 Arrival's End:Mud Floor to Middle Class 261

Jardim Angela, Sao Paulo, Brazil 261

Mumbai 281

10 Arriving In Style 289

Slotervaart, Amsterdam 289

Karail, Dhaka, Bangladesh 301

Thomcliffe Park, Toronto 311

Afterword: The Arrival City Revolutions 325

Notes 335

Acknowledgments 355

Index 357

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