At home, I'm a tourist: Musical migration and affective citizenship in Berlin

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This article explores the ways in which musical, sonic, and more broadly sensory experiences of Berlin provide the ground for an ambivalent sense of civic belonging for a cadre of migrants affiliated with the city?s local electronic dance music scenes. Drawn from ethnographic fieldwork, the accounts of these ?techno migrants? articulate an identification with the local music scenes, the built environment of the city, its urban soundscapes, its pace of life, its low population-density, its socio-economic and multicultural mix, the attitudes and sartorial styles of its residents, and the palpable sense of both recent history and imminent future. The affective dimensions of these identifications provide a means of sustaining a fantasy of belonging to a place where one remains foreign, relying on immersion in and identification with the city?s atmospheres to hold in abeyance the alienating aspects of migration. Thus, the feeling of being ?at home? in Berlin stands in for other modes of civic belonging (e.g., legal, ethnic, cultural) to which techno-migrants have limited or obstructed access. These musical migrants seem to engage in a form of ?affective citizenship? (Berlant 1997, Jones 2001, Mookherjee 2005), where a sense of belonging is sustained through affective experiences that index belonging, sometimes regardless of whether such belonging has juridical or social recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Urban Cultural Studies
Issue number1+2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

7,002 words


  • tourism
  • migration
  • Berlin
  • Germany
  • affect
  • urban studies


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