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Austerity urbanism and the promise of immigrant- and refugee-centered urban revitalization in the US Rust Belt

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Recent urban studies research emphasizes the unevenness of local responses to immigration in the United States and the emergence of economic development-focused inclusionary initiatives as a response to neoliberal downscaling in the Rust Belt. Scholars also highlight the impact of austerity urbanism – the deepening of neoliberal urbanism – in Rust Belt cities following the 2007–2008 financial crisis, noting its potential to produce progressive activism. This article considers the relationship between downscaling, austerity urbanism, and immigration activism in the Rust Belt by analyzing economic revitalization narratives within a regional consortium of inclusionary initiatives. My findings underscore the incongruities and compromises encompassed by welcoming coalitions operating in the age of austerity. Some local actors are motivated by growth agendas but affirm inclusionary values toward immigrants and refugees to substantiate them. Other actors are motivated by social justice agendas but cite the economic benefits of immigration to garner support from other factions.
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Keywords: American Rust Belt; Immigration; austerity urbanism; local immigration policies; neoliberalism; refugees

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geography, Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada

Publication date: March 16, 2018

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