With an estimated one billion migrants in the world, we live in a time of great social and economic transformation. This transformation is perhaps best witnessed through the lens of the city — oftentimes the first place immigrants head when leaving home in search of work, accommodation, or social acceptance.
Still, despite the cultural richness and economic benefits provided by these newcomers in urban areas, tension and mistrust are often unavoidable. Longtime residents may experience unease over changing demographics and unfamiliar communities — an anxiety fuelled to the extreme by political groups, media organisations, and other actors with exclusionary agendas.
Berlin is a perfect crucible in which to study and document this phenomenon – and to attempt to reframe these exclusionary narratives pushed by the interest groups noted above. It is a capital city with all the features of the developed world, but caught at a peculiar stage of development. It’s not surprising – which other major city was brutally divided for decades between two drastically different regimes? Berlin has reinvented itself many times, but now it is becoming a truly global city as an average of 50,000 new residents arrive each year. Foreign residents number over 600,000, a fair proportion for a population of around four million. New waves have layered onto more established communities, like Berliners with Turkish, Russian and Vietnamese backgrounds.
Although we live among ever more diverse populations, our social media silos keep us apart. We are more aligned with people like ourselves, with the same political views, cultural backgrounds, values, or interests. Hipsters drink third-wave coffee in Neukölln cafés next door to Turkish men’s clubs – and the two never meet.
As rapid gentrification clashes with migration, as war and climate change hasten further waves of refugees, it’s essential for those of us in cities to hasten the process of integration, to break down walls between communities, and build bridges across divides. So how are we doing this?
- Angles unites local artists and writers to co-create stories of the living city
- Angles empowers Berliners of all backgrounds, nations, and communities to feel included in city life
- Angles encompasses word, image, video, audio, art and an interactive map
- Angles is a city guide not about consumption but about integration