Abstract

Peach C. London and New York: contrasts in British and American models of segregation (with comment by Nathan Glazer). International Journal of Population Geography 1999; 5 (5): 319-351.

London and New York differ dramatically in the social geographies of their ethnic minority populations. London is a city with immigrants and minorities, while New York is a city of immigrants and minorities. In London they are recent, while in New York they are the lifeblood of its history. The contrasts in social geography stem also from the differing origins of the ethnic minority populations and the constitutional differences between the countries within which they are set. In New York, the fundamental divide is racial; in London it is cultural. London and New York have roughly the same population and are both global cities, acting in similar ways in the world economy. Both cities have been showing long-term population losses, but whereas in New York this has been identified as white flight, in London's case it is seen in less emotive terms as counterurbanisation. In particular, population decrease in the major UK conurbations preceded non-European ethnic immigration by at least ten years. Thus, whereas in New York, immigrant and minority growth is represented as displacing white Americans, in London the causation seems reversed. The discussion concentrates on comparisons of the racialised minorities in London with African-Americans and Hispanics in New York. The main thrust of the argument is that London's Afro-Caribbean population is, against expectations, following a melting pot trajectory while South Asian groups are following a more structural pluralistic path. However, in New York, African-Americans continue to experience the hyper-segregated existence that sets the American model apart from the urban forms of the Western world, while the Latino population edges towards the melting pot.