New Homes in New Lands: Socio-Spatial Negotiations of the Highly Skilled Indian Migrants in Frankfurt am Main

Project description

Urban environments have been substantially transformed by increasing socio-cultural diversity through transnational migration as a result of globalised economies in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Highly Skilled Migrant professionals form a new class of migrants as a result of the intensified globalisation processes and border-crossing flows. Within this framework of globalisation, my research proposes an architectural inquiry into the residential type of Highly Skilled Migrant (termed as “HSM” from now on) Indians, who form the latest stream within the existing heterogeneous 'Indian Diaspora' resultant of varied phases of earlier Indian migration to Germany. This group of newcomers theorised as diasporic cosmopolitans, have been drawn to Germany as a leading member of the European Union, during the past decade and a half and adapted to a non-Anglophone, global, living and working environment as the context for their rising socio-economic aspirations. These aspirations are reflected in their housing choices. Framed within the context of recent intense migration influx into Germany, where migrant integration into the local urban fabric represents a persistent challenge, this research project proposes to investigate the housing choices of the rapidly growing Indian diaspora in the metropolitan Frankfurt region as the convenors of both integrative and differentiated spatial practices linked to identity creation. This emergent Indian HSM group has been of little focus in Germany so far, but who are nonetheless residents of Germany and active contributors to the German economy. The research investigation will incorporate mapping urban positioning and connection of the Indian HSM to the existing Indian diaspora within the city and their relation to the location of ethnic commercial and religious institutions, spatial analysis of housing of Indian diasporic groups, participant observations and interviews with inhabitants and perusal of published material. The focus of this research is to inquire if and how housing is instrumentalised in a culturally diverse German host city to reflect cultural adaptation or resistance to the new context in material terms. Housing is inferred as a site for self-fashioning. This research will contribute towards understanding the active role of spatial practices of a HSM in their residence and the way architecture is consciously employed as a tool for fashioning new social identities in a new environment. This is achieved through a publication strategy that includes not only scientific publications and workshops but also a multimodal exhibition at the end of the project in the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt am Main, in which the research results are presented in the form of interactive exhibits. In this way, the progress of knowledge gained is secured beyond the duration of the project and made accessible to a wider audience.

  • Architecture, history of building and construction, building research, resource economics in construction
  • Empirical social research
  • Urban planning/urban development, spatial planning, traffic and infrastructure planning, landscape planning
Funding The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) since 2021
Project Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) – Projectnumber 435005882
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  Name Working area(s) Contact
Academic staff
Dr. Dhara Patel
Urban and Spatial Sociology, DFG-Project: New Homes in New Lands
+49 6151/16-57499
S3|13 309
Undergraduate assistant
Jonas Wilzbach B.A.
Urban and Spatial Sociology, DFG-Project New Homes in New Lands
+49 6151/16-57380
S3|13 309