Academic work

I am an urban geographer and ethnographer currently based at the School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University. I have a Ph.D. in Human Geography obtained from Durham University (UK), and I previously worked at DIST, in Turin (2008-10), at UTS Business School in Sydney (2011-13) of which I am Honorary Associate, and at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. I am also Books Review Editor of City.

I’m interested in ethnographically investigating the urban sphere, with an attention at its most “marginalized” populations (homeless people, drug users, migrants, minorities etc.), with the aim of de-colonizing the canonical imaginaries sorrounding them. From the theoretical point of view, I’m into continental philosophy, vitalist ontologies, activism and visual methodologies.

I believe in Academic research that goes beyond University, speaking new languages. I believe in Open Source. In networking. In common work and activism. This website is a platform for these things. Have a look below at my current and past research project, at this page for my publications, here for other writings, and here for my CV. Feel free contact me if you wish to collaborate.

 

Research Projects

Publications related to the following research projects can be retrieved at this page.

  • The assemblage of marginality in European cities (2014-Ongoing)

The research aims to shed new light on how urban marginalities come into being; how they are performed; and constructed/de-constructed in the relational entanglements between the self and the city. The work contributes to the critical assemblage thinking approach to urban studies, providing theoretical and empirical insights derived from specific ethnographic case studies in Europe. The main focus is around issues of drug consumption in Bucharest, Romania, but includes also selected case studies around homelessness in Italy, Romania and the UK. The objectives of this project are to challenge normative takes on marginality (i.e. where marginality is understood a-priori from its established paradigms, without taking into account its multifaceted dimensions); to offer critical and vitalist accounts of the analysed cases; and to provide situated knowledge on urban marginalisation in Europe.

  • Homeless subjects and the city (2010-Ongoing)

This is my distinctive approach to the matter of homelessness. Arguing that canonical framings of homelessness do not take into full consideration the nuances that intervene between homeless people and the mechanosphere of the city, I propose a methodological framework that strengthens the most recent trends in homelessness scholarships. In particular the approach revolves around two central points of the “performative” approach to homelessness, which are nonetheless still quite unexplored by current literature. The first is the necessity to find a conceptual and methodological approach  to the homeless individual not from pre-assumed categories, but genuinely from the vast relationalities through which she/he is “made” in the city. The second concerns the nature of the relationships between homeless people and the urban, which can be grasped through an investigation into the role of particular codes in shaping the urban contexts in which homeless people operate. In order to offer methodological “tools” able to grasp the nuances of their lives, this approach refers to specific aspects of Deleuze and Guattari’s work on subjectivity, desire, multiplicity and codification of space, as well as to critical assemblage theory. My aim is ultimately to offer insights into how to move away from a pathological understanding of the homeless-as-individual; into the role of codes and discourses on the constitution of the homeless-as-subject; and into the recognition of homeless people’s capabilities.

I have developed this approach in my PhD thesis (based on a ten months ethnographic fieldwork) and I am currently expanding and better defying it.

  • The chance of space (2011-Ongoing)

This is the more theoretical branch of my research in which I aim to move away from over-imposed ontological categories for the analysing of space to concentrate on “space” itself, as pure matter. The hypothesis of this approach is that because of a loose or too strict understanding of the concept, most of the potentiality offered by space is simply flushed away. Engaging with the philosophical work of Deleuze and Guattari along with a non-representational style of thinking, I propose a conception of space(time) as pure immanence from which derives the more-than-human contexts where social action is performed. With this approach I investigate the powerful entanglements that intervene between humans and non-humans in the production of contexts, while the notion of “chance of space” is introduced to underlie the unpredictability and potentiality of every spatial context.

 

Past Research Projects

 

  • Dr Chau Chak Wing building and The Goods Line (2011-2013)

I have, since  October 2011, been  working with Stewart Clegg on a research related to a  Frank Gehry project (the Dr. Chau Wing building in Sydney). This research focuses on the intention of the UTS’ Business school to become a “World Leading Business School” in the coming years, analysing the role played by the delivery of the Frank Gehry’s Dr. Chau Chak Wing building in the achievement of this vision. The project aims also to investigate how the building is going to impact on the urban area where it locates, and to investigate how the Ultimo precinct is changing.

There are three main phases in this research project.

The first phase (2011-2012) has been dedicated at the excavation of the rationale and vision of the Business School. This vision, which represent the future identity of the Faculty, has been investigated as the outcome of a socio-spatial process – the delivery of the building, where many rationalities are at play. Looking at the different practices, representations and values of some of the most relevant actors at play in the project, the research has showed how those rationalities relate, compete or cope with each other, thus contributing to the definition and achievement of the Business School’s aim. This phase of the research has produced two academic papers, which aim to contribute at the literature on globalization (how the Business School is aligning to certain “global” discourses on Business Education, translating them into the new organization) and change (proposing a processual understanding of change, investigated through an ANT approach).

The second phase (2012-2013) will be focused on street observations of the area comprised between Haymarket, Central Station, Darling Harbour, and Ultimo. What are the different uses of space in this area? How the projects, including the Dr Chau Chak Wink building and the the Ultimo Pedestrian Network (The Goods Line), which are currently developed in the area, are going to change it? Essentially, it will be an analysis of the current cultures enacted in those spaces. Field-notes and photo-takin (and photo-analysis) will be the two main methodologies implied. The aim is to examine the changes of this part of the city developing approaches derived from critical urban theory.

The third phase (2013-2014) will be mainly dedicated at further investigating the role of the Dr Chau Chak Wing building project in shaping the urban area where it sits, and eventually at an ethnography of the construction site, as well as consolidating my writing concerned with urban space.
The purpose of this three years research investigation is to grasp some of the complexities related to the project and, on the basis of this, to produce specific research outcomes such as:

  • An understanding of the role of space, time and non-human actants in shaping organisations
  • A critical reflection around the connection between local and global processes of change
  • A critical analysis of the role of a major architectural project in affecting a particular urban area
  • The investigation of new methods for ethnographic-based research.

 

  • Before PhD (2007-2010)

– Research fellow (with grant)

July 2010 – July 2011, University of Turin (IT), DITer-Faculty of Architecture. Research: the condition of marginalized people in  Turin; new methods of  studying urban marginality from a ground-based point of view. Methods: ethnographical and bibliographical work.

– Research fellow (with grant)

Nov. 2008 – Nov. 2010, University of Turin (IT), DITer-Faculty of Architecture. Research: the cohesion policies of the EU at the urban level. Methods: bibliographical and statistical reviews; interviews with relevant stakeholders.

– Research fellow (with grant)

Feb. 2008 – Jun. 2008, University of Turin (IT), DITer-Faculty of Architecture. Research: territorial study of a region in the North of Italy. Methods: semi-structured interviews with politicians and relevant territorial stakeholders.

– Research assistant (with grant)

Sept. 2007 – Dec. 2007, University of Turin (IT), DITer-Faculty of Architecture. Research: research on the housing policies of the Municipality of Turin and of the Piedmont Region.  Methods: bibliographical work.