Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham with Jon Bloomfield
Join historian and urban policy specialist Jon Bloomfield in conversation with Claire Spencer discussing some of the stories in Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham. Contributors Immy Kaur and David Huggins will also be part of the panel discussion.
Race and migration are the most volatile and explosive issues in British politics today. In contrast to the tabloid headlines, Our City: Migration and the Making of Modern Birmingham explores how one of Britain’s major cities has been transformed for the better by its migrant population.
Over the last half century the UK has sought to resolve the challenges arising from large-scale migration within a multi-cultural framework and shown the fallacy of the doomsday scenarios painted by Enoch Powell. Today, voices similar to Powell’s, are using the dangers of Islamist extremism and the UK vote to leave the EU as reasons to reassert a closed British identity. Instead, this book argues, the response should be a firm defence of the principles of racial equality with a confident assertion of why mixed, open societies are the way forward for 21st century cities and why migrants are central to their future dynamism and prosperity.
Based on original interviews, this book tells the story of fifty migrants to Birmingham from all walks of life: first and second generation; men and women; from thirteen different countries from Ireland to India, Pakistan to Poland, the Caribbean to Somalia. This book shows the variety of migrant experience, from their working lives, to education, religion and relationships, and in particular challenges the monolithic views of communitarian authors.
Migrants are and will remain a permanent and growing feature of British and European cities. The book is rooted in Birmingham but places migrants’ experiences in the wider context of similar developments taking place in other large British and European cities. It combines the specific with the general and aims to fill a major gap in current popular literature. This is an optimistic book for challenging times. It shows how together we can develop mixed, open cities that blend new influences with old and create the intercultural cities that represent Europe’s future.
Tickets are £5 and free for Impact Hub Birmingham members. You can book your ticket here via Eventbrite. Copies of Our City will be sale at this event and Jon will be more than happy to sign copies.
More about Jon Bloomfield:
Jon Bloomfield is a historian by training and an urban policy specialist by practice. Currently, he is an advisor to the EU’s largest climate change initiative Climate KIC and for over a decade has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, having previously worked for Coventry and Birmingham City Councils. He specialise in urban affairs with specific expertise in governance, migration and the environment. In the 1980s and 1990s he reported from Eastern Europe for several publications and covered the 1989 Czechoslovak ‘Velvet Revolution’ for The Guardian.
Claire is a committed localist who is driven by a passion for empowering communities to make change via collaborative endeavour. She is currently working with the West Midlands Combined Authority as a senior policy adviser, focusing on shaping and delivering the region’s burgeoning inclusive growth agenda. She has worked across the public, private and third sectors, and has also held public office as a councillor in Birmingham.
Immy Kaur is passionate about building fairer, more equal and just cities through people, place and open movements. Immy’s work focuses on building teams who understand, embrace and experiment with the powerful role of producing, convening, building civic movements and infrastructure, complemented by the application of design and complex systems science to solve our cities wicked challenges. Immy is co – founder of Impact Hub Birmingham, which is on a mission to help build a fairer, more equal and just city through people, place and open movements.
David’s parents came to Birmingham from St.Kitts Nevis. His dad was a welder and his mum a cleaner at the central postal sorting office. David went to school in Nechells; got an apprenticeship to British Leyland at Longbridge in 1979; and has worked in the motor industry ever since. Today, he works at Jaguar Land Rover, combining roles as a skilled engineer developing all the driver information displays with that of a manager ensuring that projects are delivered on time.
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