Migrant City A New History of London Panikos Panayi

Publication date:
08 Feb 2022
Yale University Press
496 pages: 197 x 127mm
32 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The first history of London to show how immigrants have built, shaped and made a great success of the capital city

London is now a global financial and multicultural hub in which over three hundred languages are spoken. But the history of London has always been a history of immigration.

Panikos Panayi explores the rich and vibrant story of London– from its founding two millennia ago by Roman invaders, to Jewish and German immigrants in the Victorian period, to the Windrush generation invited from Caribbean countries in the twentieth century. Panayi shows how migration has been fundamental to London’s economic, social, political and cultural development.

Migrant City sheds light on the various ways in which newcomers have shaped London life, acting as cheap labour, contributing to the success of its financial sector, its curry houses, and its football clubs. London’s economy has long been driven by migrants, from earlier continental financiers and more recent European Union citizens. Without immigration, fueled by globalization, Panayi argues, London would not have become the world city it is today.

Panikos Panayi was born in London to Greek Cypriot immigrants and grew up in the multicultural city developing during the 1960s and 1970s. A leading authority on the history of migration, he is professor of European history at De Montfort University.

“Admirably thorough…Anyone curious about the impact of migration on the history and culture of London could do worse than read the chapter on food in this exhaustive history.”—Andrew Holgate, The Sunday Times 

“This book convincingly argues that, more than in any other city in Europe, let alone the world, migrants have shaped the destiny of London.”—Francis Ghiles, Esglobal

“Said to be the first history of London to show how immigrants have built, shaped and made a great success of the capital city, Migrant City by Panikos Panayi is a fascinating and revealing book.”—John Singleton, Methodist Recorder

Migrant City, an invaluable and scholarly resource, chronicles multi-shaded, multi-ethnic London in all its glory.”—Ian Thomson, Evening Standard

“An interesting and rewarding book...You can be familiar with the facts of everyday life in a cosmopolitan, multicultural city but still be surprised and enriched by Panayi's scholarly analysis.”—James Evans, Spectator

“[A] compendious and illuminating survey of London”—Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk

“A love letter to the UK’s capital and its history of immigration”—Maya Goodfellow, Prospect

“Detailed and well-referenced…a valuable resource”—Jad Adams, Who Do You Think You Are?

“This worthwhile and sensitive survey looks at the history of virtually every immigrant community to have settled in London since the eighteenth century, and in turn assesses almost every facet of that experience.”—Mike Berlin, Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society

Migrant City is a fantastic text, combining breadth with depth and broad trends with personal stories. It will be useful to a range of scholars and students, not just those studying immigration, but to economic, urban, and social historians. Whether seeking demographic data, analysis of pivotal events, or the personal stories of everyday Londoners, Migrant City will, for years to come, remain a defining text on London’s immigration history.” – Jack Crangle, Twentieth Century British History

“This book celebrates London, its uniqueness, and its influence. It also acknowledges the drive, struggle and fortitude of the myriad migrants who call London their home. They and London have made a dynamic accommodation delivering a vibrant, if at times, fractious multicultural mega city.”—Barry Coidan, The London Society

“Whilst Migrant City will undoubtedly become a key text for students of migration, it will be of great use to anyone interested in urban history generally or the interplay between economic, political, and cultural change in Britain.”—Daniel Renshaw, Cultural and Social History

“Immigrants from near and far are the lifeblood of any great city, none more than London. This is a masterly and invaluable history of a neglected topic.”—Simon Jenkins, author of A Short History of London

“An eclectic integration of interviews, personal stories, case-studies and historical analyses, Migrant City: A New History of London tells a powerful story about London’s reliance on immigration. Its potency comes from its incontrovertibility; without immigration, London would not exist as we know it. Panayi bravely confronts the lazy and often arbitrary distinction between immigrant and native to boldly showcase what it really means to be a Londoner in the modern world.”—David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and campaigner for the Windrush generation

“The history of London book I've been waiting a London lifetime for - Panayi delivers modern and ancient truths about this city through a personal, heartfelt style that beats from the page. In these divisive times, this is an urgent and necessary history of our capital city.”—Sabrina Mahfouz, contributor to The Good Immigrant