Undocumented Migrant Communities in Cities: Negotiating Legal and Legitimate Status from Below
journal contributionposted on 2021-05-21, 15:10 authored by Oreva Olakpe
This paper examines the literature on cities, citizenship and performative rights claiming through the lens of undocumented migrant status, using ethnographic research of the Nigerian community in the city of Guangzhou, China as an example. It begins with a background of the research, delineating the context of migration in China and the factors shaping the perceptions of citizenship and undocumented status in that locale. Next, it delves into the literature on citizenship and rights claiming, looking at the approaches to citizenship and tries to situate undocumented migrant status in these approaches. It then relies on examples for the city of Guangzhou to illustrate how undocumented migrant communities perform citizenship and negotiate legal and legitimate status through alternative channels and resist hegemonic structures in big cities in real life. This paper unpacks the ways in which undocumented migrants exhibit citizenship, belonging and agency from below to demonstrate the different meanings and manifestations of agency, marginality and asymmetries of power in big cities in the Global South.