Along with an increase of temporary forms of migration, multi-locational livelihoods and household arrangements are on the rise in many countries and world regions. The distribution of household income sources or other assets between two or several locations has been observed and identified in Africa and Asia for quite some time already. More recently, however, multi-locational employment and residential patterns— manifesting, for example, in growing numbers of workers with secondary residences—were found to be increasing in countries such as Germany and Switzerland as well.

Although the academic literature and, to a greater extent, the policy and planning discourse about multi-locality have evolved separately in the Global South and North, we argue that a joint perspective is valuable. This is due to common background factors, including (to name only a few) the globalisation of labour markets, the changing political geographies, and the advancement of ICT. Also, the characteristics and functions of multi-locality in the North and South are more similar than often assumed. In Africa and Asia, for instance, mobile arrangements and life-cycle phases—though usually studied within frameworks of survival economies and livelihoods—are also becoming a feature of the well-educated, internationally-oriented middle class.

The implications of multi-locality on local and regional development and governance are particularly pertinent. From the perspectives of cities and regions, multi-locational actors and arrangements increasingly shape, for example, their economic development potential and also have an impact on the local demand for housing and infrastructure. Thus, questions arise regarding the appropriate policy and planning responses to multi-locality, as well as the adequate organisational setups required. It can be assumed that in the light of migration and multi-locality, the territorialised approaches towards local development planning in both the South and North are increasingly being called into question. Meanwhile, “informal” actors (e.g., migrant networks) provide indications on how governance beyond administrative boundaries may work and better account for the needs of mobile population groups.

The contributions in this issue seek to address multi-locality from the various angles described. Eva Dick and Cédric Duchêne-Lacroix compare the characteristics, motives, and spatial patterns of multi-locality in the North and South, an endeavour rarely undertaken previously. One of their conclusions is that, notably, globalisation creates similarities crosscutting North-South boundaries, something which needs to be detailed and probed by future studies. Andrea Dittrich-Wesbuer addresses multi-locality in Germany, where, in spite of an increasing number of multi-local households, the issue is hardly taken up in urban policies. Thus, further inputs from both theory and practice are necessary. Cindy Fan describes household-splitting in China, a strategy that has been common in the country for decades. Her focus is on the diverse household arrangements and their implications on mobility behaviour (e.g., the duration of multi-local living). Ine Cottyn and Gery Nijenhuis describe how contemporary “villagisation” policies and other economic transformations in Rwanda have contributed to population redistribution and prompted an increased mobility of livelihoods. Elsewhere, in Bangladesh, rural dwellers are often drawn to a multilocal life due to the better employment and living opportunities in cities, as Sabine Baumgart discusses in her contribution. However, their mobile livelihoods and (often) informal institutions are hardly recognised by statutory planning authorities. In a similar vein, Caitlin Blaser and Loren B. Landau highlight the influence of multi-local people and migrants on local communities, often challenging dominant governance modes. The authors propose an instrument for the evaluation of a given local government’s capacity to respond to mobility and multilocality. Peter Franke describes the background and development of employment-based, political and cultural networks of multi-local people in China, where nearly 20% of the population are officially defined as a “floating population”. But multi-locality can also be observed across national borders and even continents: in Karin Gaesing’s article, a case study is presented in which transnational multi-local arrangements resulted in the financial cooperation between migrant associations in Paris and their community of origin in rural Mali. This can be seen as a successful migration-based partnership facilitated by development cooperation. Alexandra Linden and Caroline Schäfer show that multi-locality often develops between rural and urban areas, and can be used to strengthen rural-urban linkages and cooperative arrangements. Renate Bornberg illustrates that multi-locality is by no means a new phenomenon, but in some world regions has been practiced for centuries. Drawing on the example of multi-local caravan traders in Iran, she shows how historical forms of multi-locality persist but are gradually transforming (e.g., in the context of “modern” transport development). Finally, Einhard Schmidt-Kallert reminisces on the background and debates about multi-locality in the last decade. Although multi-locality has found its place in the academic debate by now, he points out open questions for research and the need for higher awareness in development policy and praxis.

Verbunden mit dem Anstieg temporärer Migrationsformen nehmen multilokale Lebensformen und Haushaltstypen im globalen Süden und Norden zu. Für diese Entwicklung sind in beiden Kontexten ähnliche Strukturfaktoren ausschlaggebend, bspw. Globalisierung und Flexibilisierung der Arbeitsmärkte, neue ICTs und der Wandel von Familienformen und Geschlechterrollen. Auch Merkmale multilokaler Haushalte und Lebensformen gleichen sich tendenziell an. Aus planerischer Sicht sind die Auswirkungen von Multilokalität auf die lokale und regionale Entwicklung sowie Governance besonders bedeutsam. Hier muss nach angepassten Regelungsmechanismen und Strukturen auf verschiedenen räumlichen Ebenen gefragt werden.

Die Beiträge in diesem Heft reflektieren Multilokalität aus diesen unterschiedlichen Perspektiven. Eva Dick und Cédric Duchêne-Lacroix vergleichen Merkmale, Motive und räumliche Muster von Multilokalität im Norden und Süden. Andrea Dittrich-Wesbuer untersucht, inwieweit Städte in Deutschland die Vervielfältigung dieser Lebensformen berücksichtigen. Cindy Fan analysiert das Mobilitätsverhalten verschiedener multilokaler Haushaltstypen in China. Ine Cottyn und Gery Nijenhuis zeichnen den Einfluss wirtschaftspolitischer Transformationen auf Siedlungsstrukturen in Rwanda nach. In Dhaka, Bangladesch, lässt sich laut Sabine Baumgart die Bedeutung multilokaler Überlebenssicherung an spezifischen Beschäftigungs- und Wohnarrangements ablesen. Dass formelle Stadtpolitiken mobile Lebensformen dabei kaum im Blick haben, betonen auch Caitlin Blaser und Loren B. Landau und stellen in ihrem Artikel ein Instrument zur Evaluierung kommunaler Kompetenzen in Südafrika vor. Peter Franke beschreibt Organisationsformen von WanderarbeiterInnen in China in ihrer historischen Entwicklung und Karin Gaesing ein erfolgreiches Kooperationsvorhaben zwischen MigrantInnenorganisationen, lokaler Verwaltung und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit im Rahmen der Dezentralisierungsförderung in Mali. Alexandra Linden und Caroline Schäfer argumentieren, wie Multilokalität zur Stärkung von Stadt-Land Beziehungen genutzt werden kann. Am Beispiel des Fernhandels in Iran zeigt Renate Bornberg frühe Formen multilokaler Daseinssicherung und ihre Veränderung im Lichte moderner Transportentwicklung auf. Einhard Schmidt-Kallert plädiert in seinem Schlussartikel für die Stärkung einer multilokalen Perspektive in der Regionalwissenschaft und Planungspraxis.

Renate Bornberg, Eva Dick & Einhard Schmidt-Kallert


  • 2. Editorial
  • 4. Multi-local Living in the Global South and Global North: Differences, Convergences and Universality of an Underestimated Phenomenon Eva Dick and Cédric Duchêne-Lacroix
  • 10. Multi-locality – New Challenges for Urban Development and Policies in Germany? Andrea Dittrich-Wesbuer
  • 17. Household-Splitting of Rural Migrants in Beijing, China Cindy Fan
  • 22. Livelihoods on the Move? Diversification and Mobility in the Changing Rural Context of North-West Rwanda Ine Cottyn and Gery Nijenhuis
  • 28. Multi-locality in the Global South – Observations of Daily Life in Bangladesh Sabine Baumgart
  • 33. The Governance of Multiple Elsewheres: Evaluating Municipalities’ Response to Mobility Caitlin Blaser and Loren B. Landau
  • 39. Arbeiterorganisationen in China: Zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen und Multilokalität Peter Franke
  • 46. Migrants from Mali Invest in Developing Their Home Municipalities – GIZ Project Provides the Framework for Cooperation Karin Gaesing
  • 50. Rural-Urban Linkages and Multi-local Households in the International Development Debate – an Overview Alexandra Linden and Caroline Schäfer
  • 56. Multi-locality from Historic Times until Today: The Case of Iran Renate Bornberg
  • 62. No Arrival without Origin – Multi-locality Revisited Einhard Schmidt-Kallert
  • 69. Book Reviews
  • 71. Forthcoming Events / Veranstaltungen