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Places of Otherness

Comparing Eastleigh, Nairobi, and Xiaobei, Guangzhou, as Sites of South-South Migration

Neil Carrier and Gordon Mathews


This article looks at two urban landscapes critical for mobility within the Global South: Eastleigh, Kenya, and Xiaobei, China. While different, they are both centers of global trade that attract migrants seeking livelihoods, and are also regarded with great ambivalence within the countries that host them. We explore this ambivalence, showing how it links to fear of the “others” who animate them, and to broader politics in which migrants become caught. Such places often simultaneously attract members of the host society for a taste of the other, or business opportunities, yet also repel and induce fear as places of danger. For the migrant population, there is also ambivalence—as they are places that offer both opportunity for social mobility, yet also places of hard lives and immobility. In short, both are critical nodes in patterns of South-South mobility where dynamics of such mobility and reaction to it can be understood.