Campus Research Board's Funding Initiative for Multiracial Democracy

Dr. Nikolai Alvarado has been awarded Campus Research Board funding to conduct field work in Costa Rica for the next year. His proposal, entitled “South-South Migrants, Social Justice, and the Shaping of Urban Democracies: Investigating Alternative Forms of Migrant Inclusion in Informal Settlements,” is being supported through UIUC's Funding Initiative for Multiracial Democracy program, which provides support for research that critically engages scholarly and public debates on multiracial democracy in any area of the world.

from Alvarado's Campus Research Board proposal:

In informal settlements across Latin America, non-citizen migrants and representatives of the state engage in face-to-face negotiations over the allocation of urban rights. These episodes, which blend moments of conflict and cooperation, enable migrants to compel key decision-makers from different state institutions to tacitly recognize them as legitimate urban dwellers through, for example, accepting their self-installed basic infrastructure as part of the formal grid. Becoming recognized users of the city’s resources establishes an alternative form of inclusion for migrants through the granting of urban rights, and a capacity to have political participation in the urbanization of their spaces, regardless of their citizenship or residence status.

This “infrastructural citizenship” cements ongoing relations between migrants and the state that are vital to migration projects in these marginalized spaces of fast-urbanizing regions. Yet, despite the importance of these migrant-state relations as alternative forms of political inclusion and de facto granting of urban rights to non-citizen migrants, little is known about how they travel up and operate within the institutions of the state as off-the-record forms of governance that do not leave traces in formal policy and indeed, often contradict the state’s own legal framework vis-à-vis migration.