International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 36: Cultural Diasporas

Caroline Nagel


Caroline Nagel INTRODUCTION World cities are commonly distinguished from other ‘ordinary’ cities by the particular function they serve in the global economy. As concentrations of advanced producer services, world cities are the command-and-control centers of the global economy – nodes of power and connectivity where flows of communication, information and capital converge. World cities can also be thought of as particular social and cultural spaces characterized by high levels of human mobility and diversity. In many ‘top tier’ world cities, a fifth or more of the population is foreign born, and it is not uncommon to find neighborhoods, districts or boroughs where over half of the population is foreign born. Steve Vertovec (2007) speaks of these urban spaces as ‘super-diverse’, referring not only to residents’ places of origin, but also to their legal statuses, their routes of entry and their insertion within labor markets. The world city, indeed, is home to skilled and unskilled workers, to sojourners and long-term residents, to documented and to clandestine migrants, and to the highly privileged and the abject. The differences and disparities among the residents of world cities have led some theorists to conceive of the world city as a polarized space of haves and have-nots where transnational elites are served by a transnational servant class (see Hamnett, 1994 for a critical discussion). Others, though, while not denying the inequalities within world cities, emphasize the unique forms of social and cultural production that take place within them. These social and cultural forms are often described...

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