The publication we are presenting brings together content from various Umbral art pieces in the metro, along with a series of articles and projects which, like parallel stations, contribute a plural vision on migration today. When we consider that Umbral (literally “threshold”) refers to the passage towards a new space, we can appreciate how appropriate it is for contemporary interculturality to offer ideas and experiences which help us to understand that society is built through processes that improve everyone’s life.
The relationship between migration and the transformation of cities is a reality today. In fact, the various activities of host cities intervening as responsible societies when faced with discriminatory situations are one of the main channels for changing current policies, when planned as the result of a shared effort to effectively transform our society.
Barcelona itself also happens to be a city that has been built, historically speaking, from the contributions from all those who have found a place to live in it. It is a city that has provided not just immediate aid but also a recent agenda where important changes have been introduced in relation to the shifts occurring around the world on local, national and international levels.
The habitability of cities is determined by this impact, where social spaces such as art, culture and freedom are appropriate for thinking collectively about issues that are not happening far away, as if they did not concern us, but which shape the society of our times. Delving deeply into the interior of cities is sometimes hard and complicated work, as much for the cultural arena, where it finds its field of influence in social intervention, as when political commitment is the basis for dealing appropriately with solutions to urgent issues.
Phenomena such as the migrant caravan currently heading for the United States, the increased number of helpless situations during migratory processes and the reappearance of extremist political movements may well be linked. These are issues that not only affect our capacity to become truly contemporary, open and cosmopolitan societies but which also have an affect on how habitable places for everyone are built. On the other hand, new ways of expressing ourselves and thinking are being satisfactorily integrated into society. We are made up of a collection of voices and these contributions help to create new spaces of freedom.
This is the main goal of this publication. Considering the relevance of these types of actions with a contemporary sensibility, providing contributions from people who can explain different points of view based on their own experience, sharing a common goal which shows, expresses and brings visibility to the paradoxical situations that appear in the contemporary world.
With a diversity of viewpoints, we must understand what migration means today and discuss the experiences of people who, like all of us, share the long process of finding a space where they can live as they choose. And we know what remains to be done for migration and transforming a city such as Barcelona. We are aware that it is a traumatic, complex and long-lasting experience, once racism, rejection and discrimination are brought into the equation. Even so, the hope of crossing this threshold together is very important when it comes to being able to improve city life among us all.
The problems that arise on the threshold we pass through are often recognisable signs of the effort we must make to show the difficulties that arise around these borders. We have been talking about issues which, while originally to do with migration and human rights, become more urgent when they relate to the capacity of contemporary cities to contribute effective solutions to certain situations of social discrimination.
This is the case of the proposals we present, which are having a positive effect on how we share this transformation. This publication is the result of a collective effort between people with extremely different activities relating to social, artistic and political thought, activities which they are carrying out every day to improve everyone’s situation, through institutions, associations and the collectives involved. We know that not all the processes of change and transformation that accompany migration have the same causes, and we must emphasise the work of integration cities are called on to do to when they offer appropriate spaces for improving today’s society.
This publication invites its readers to cross this threshold together, when we realise that a city is habitable if there is a space for everybody.