The Value of Inter-Cultural Dialogue Through Community Based Forums for Building Relations Between New Migrants and Settled Groups at the Neighbourhood Scale

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 18:00 in Discussion Forums

Where: Rose Bowl, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds
Time: 18:00
With: Dr Deborah Phillips


Dr Deborah Phillips of Jesus College, University of Oxford, joined the Dialogue Society, Leeds Branch for a fascinating seminar on the considerable potential of local community forums to build relationships between new migrants and longer-established groups. Through such forums, Dr Phillips suggested, different local groups can arrive at common understandings about local problems, needs and solutions, and get to know one another better. Dr Phillips drew on her own research to elucidate the possible role of community forums in the context of the Big Society, and to respond to the questions of a diverse audience.


The arrival of new migrants is commonly understood to bring tensions in community relations, competition for resources and challenges for local service delivery. The coalition Government’s focus on the ‘Big Society’ suggests that local people should come together to solve neighbourhood problems and build the community they want. This seminar will explore the use of community based forums to promote shared understanding between new migrants and settled groups around neighbourhood, community and housing issues, and the potential for diverse residents to arrive at common understandings about local problems, needs and solutions.

The seminar (a) explores new and settled populations’ experiences of neighbourhood and community in Bradford; (b) evaluates the effectiveness of inter-cultural dialogue through community forums for inter-group engagement and learning; (c) identifies areas of commonality and divergence in opinions on housing, neighbourhood and community between new and settled groups; (d) explores the potential for building shared understandings of ways to improve everyday life.

Biography of Deborah Phillips

Dr Phillips studied Geography at University College London (BA), the University of British Columbia (MA) and the University of Cambridge (PhD). She has taught geography at the University of Leeds since 1990, where she continues to contribute to the teaching and research programme. She was deputy director of the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds from 1998-2008.

Dr Phillips came to the University of Oxford in 2008 as a Visiting Reader in Geography and became a member of Jesus College in 2009. Dr Phillips' research interests focus on ethnic segregation, racial inequalities in housing, social integration and geographies of citizenship and belonging. She is currently undertaking research on the impact of new migration on community relations at the neighbourhood level in the UK, using participatory research methods.