This paper explores asylum seekers’ experiences of urban arrival infrastructures, illustrating how these provide asylum seekers with opportunities for familiarization with the reception location and its inhabitants. Drawing on two qualitative case studies in Augsburg, Germany, three different subsets of arrival infrastructures emerged as relevant to familiarization; infrastructures for information, for language learning and for social connection. The analysis shows how asylum seekers are differentially positioned towards accessing informational, language-learning and social infrastructures due the intersection of spatial, institutional and personal constraints. Public and semi-public spaces proved to be indispensable to asylum seekers’ informational, language learning and social infrastructures. The paper concludes by highlighting the ambiguity and political nature of urban arrival infrastructures: While state-provided, formal infrastructures often undermined the process of familiarization and contributed to asylum seekers’ differential access to opportunities and resources, informal, citizen-provided infrastructures were crucial in supporting asylum seekers’ needs during the periods of uncertainty. © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2023.2276608
ISSN: 02723638