Mahgol Motalebi

E-Mail: mahgol.motalebi[at]
Phone: 0049 17645616683


Mahgol Motalebi is a doctorate student holding DAAD scholarship within the study program IPP-EU at the Institute for European Urban Studies.

Born in 1991, she studied Bachelor of Architecture in Iran; following the Cum Laude graduation in 2016 from the “Architecture and Sustainability” program at Katholieke University (KU) Leuven, Belgium. During the master studies, she joined “Media Architecture” program at Bauhaus University Weimar as a guest student where she had worked with Refugees in Weimar on art and research projects that also shaped her Master thesis and future research direction, with the focus on the social and spatial dimension of urban segregation and its influence on the integration of immigrants and refugees. SS

Since 2018, She is working on the doctorate project under the title “Immigrant’s home in the making through spatial practice: The case of Iranian immigrants in Berlin” In this research, she attempts to illustrate the current integration processes and challenges of Iranian immigrants based on their spatial practices to make Berlin their new home.


Integration is the ground for many pieces of research on the sense of belonging of immigrants. The personal and ethnic culture of the immigrants, alongside their urban spatial practices, has an extensive influence on the sense of belonging as the subjective outcome of integration (Brah 1996; Sigona et al. eds. 2015).

This research shifts the discussions towards contextualizing the experiences of a single ethnic immigrant in urban space within different spatial scales, which influences how perception and use of urban space shape. It looks beyond the scoop of fixed spatial characteristics on immigrant integration and belonging.

This research reflects on the demographic data available on the Iranian immigrants in Berlin, it demonstrates and compares the settlement pattern of both established and newly arrived Iranian immigrants to investigate the possible impact of the process of objective integration on the choice or compulsion of different localities. Moreover, by analyzing the possible correlation between variable which embody the characteristics of Berlin’s neighborhood and the Iranian's settlement pattern, the aim is to explore how and to what extent the neighborhood characteristics can affect the perception of Iranian immigrants in regards to their sense of belonging and placemaking.

Alongside, by conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin and semi-structured interviews with the Iranian immigrant study group, this research investigates empirical situated knowledge on the personal and ethnocultural factors that can affect spatial practices and behaviors that affect the sense of belonging of the study group.

Based on Iranian immigrants perception and use of urban space, this study focus on the extent and state of contacts, inclusion or exclusion from activities and (in)visibility as a form of spatial practice, the influence of individual perception of the physical environment (Urban Landscape) and the effect of spatial knowledge and readability of the space in Iranian immigrant sense of belonging.

Lastly, this research is aiming to open up the discussion on the intersection of spatial and cultural factors within the immigrant subjective integration discourse.


Sense of Belonging

Spatial Practice

Place Making

Iranien Immigrants