“London is a Much More Interesting Place than Paris”: Place- comparison and the Moral Geographies of Highly Skilled Migrants
Introduction Drawing on data from a study of the French highly skilled in London, this chapter explores the nature and dynamics of a migrant population’s “sense of place” in a global city. Specifically, it examines some of the ways in which highly skilled migrants construct their own moral geographies through the recursive relationship that forms between the affective qualities of their cities of dwelling, their own status-related perceptions, and their day-to-day space-making practices. We assert that the moral geographies associated with the formulation of highly skilled migrants’ sense of place must be understood as an outcome of this complex dynamic, but also produced through the deployment of what we would refer to as a “grounded comparative epistemology of place,” in this case through the juxtapositioning of the qualities of London and Paris. By a “grounded comparative epistemology of place” we suggest a process whereby senses of place are actively constructed through a complex play of lived experiences, imaginings, and the affective qualities of a place, but importantly via evaluative comparative practices where particular, “significant other places,” are selected to furnish evaluations of current places of dwelling.