Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 July 2010
When migrants enter their new country, they are immediately faced with the sometimes daunting task of finding a place to live. Studies of urban settlement patterns record that migrants often are concentrated in certain parts of cities; Little Italy and Chinatown in New York City may be among the better-known ethnic communities in the world, but they are far from unique. Ethnic neighbourhoods give migrants a place in the new country where they can speak their own language and obtain the goods and services they need to maintain to some degree the way of life they grew up with.
Ethnic communities are not entirely separate entities, however, built on the edge of town. They are created within the confines of the host community, occupying areas once exclusively the domain of the host community or areas vacated by other, often more upwardly mobile ethnic minorities. Initially, the hosts may be attracted by some of the innovations brought in by the migrants, notably the food and the festivals, but it is rare for the hosts to hold the ethnic communities in high regard. Nevertheless, whether the host is attracted or repelled, in finding a place for themselves, migrants bring about quite often dramatic changes in the host community.